William Sydney Mount. “Coming to the Point.” New York: William Schaus, 1855. 19 1/4 x 23. Lithograph by Soulange Tessier, Paris. Superb original hand color. Small (1/2 x 1/8) repaired hole in top margin and a few very short tears at edges. Otherwise, excellent condition.
A wonderful image after a painting by William Sidney Mount. Mount (1807-1868) was the first important American genre painter. He spent most of his life on Long Island, where he recorded his observations of local daily life in a large number of charming portraits, landscapes and genre scenes. In the mid-nineteenth century, a number of the better American artists, including Mount and George Caleb Bingham, had images made of their paintings to be sold as separate prints. An important source of support for native-born American artists, such prints were also key tools in the dissemination of ‘fine art’ to the general American public.
Goupil, Vibert & Company was a very large print publisher and art dealer in Paris. In 1847, the firm sent William Schaus to New York to open an American branch and to set up an International Art Union which would compete with the American Art Union. Mount, who was displeased with the American Art Union, struck up a friendship with Schaus, and the printer eventually arranged issue of ten of Mount’ paintings as large color lithographs: seven were published by Goupil and three by Schaus himself after he left Goupil. This print is a second version of Mount’s earlier “Bargaining for a Horse.” Both images exemplified a favorite American myth, the witty triumph of the hayseed over the city-slicker. The quality of this print, lithographed by the best craftsmen in Europe, is excellent — one of the finest examples of American genre art.