Arader presents Currier & Ives views of America Nov. 7  

Currier & Ives

Nathaniel Currier (1813-1888) and James Merritt Ives (1824-1895) after F.F. Palmer, ‘Wooding Upon the Mississippi,’ lithograph with original hand color, New York: Currier & Ives, 1863, 21 3/8in x 30in sheet, 35 x 43½in framed. Gale Number: 7326. Estimate: $8,000-$12,000. Arader Galleries image

NEW YORK – Arader Galleries will conduct its largest-ever Currier & Ives sale, an online-only event exclusively composed of the gallery’s renowned collection. The sale will be a timed auction that will conclude on Nov. 7 at 5 p.m. Eastern time. Bid absentee or live online exclusively through LiveAuctioneers.

The Currier & Ives publishing firm created the most popular and highly regarded lithographs of quintessentially American scenes ever produced. The quality, vast scope and engagingly populist style of their works have made their names synonymous with an idealistic vision of 19th-century American promise and optimism. Currier & Ives’ broad productivity was accompanied by consistently high standards of printing and hand-coloring and their ability to draw on original works by many of the finest American genre painters of the times: Fanny Palmer, Louis Maurer, Arthur Fitzwilliam Tait and George Durrie. Even – perhaps, especially –today, Currier & Ives prints are paragons of Americana; indeed, to most Americans born in the post-World War II era, the firm’s name has the ring of a household brand name, nearly as recognizable as Proctor & Gamble or Arm & Hammer. It is a name that conjures up a particularly nostalgic view of America’s past: when we speak of the art of Currier & Ives, we allude to cultural heritage, a vital part of this nation’s identity on a par with the Empire State Building, the Grand Canyon and the Star-Spangled Banner.

Currier & Ives

Nathaniel Currier after Louis Maurer, ‘Preparing for Market,’ lithograph with original hand color, New York: Nathaniel Currier, 22 5/8 x 30½in sheet. Gale Number: 5280-5282. Arader Galleries image

Currier & Ives was founded in New York in 1835 by Nathaniel T. Currier. As a youth, Currier began his publishing career as an apprentice at the Boston lithographic firm, William S. & John Pendleton. In 1857, James Merritt Ives, the company’s bookkeeper and Currier’s brother-in-law, joined Currier as a partner at the publishing firm. Generally, Currier supervised production while Ives handled the business and financial side. Currier & Ives prints were decorative and inexpensive, ranging in price from 20 cents to $3. Their subject matter ranged from rural life, ships, trains, animal and sporting scenes to religious images and spectacular news events. The firm produced more than 7,000 titles and became the largest and most successful American lithographic publishing company of the 19th century. Vigorous marketing through published catalogs, a sales staff and agents throughout the U.S., as well as in London, enabled Currier & Ives to capture approximately three-quarters of the American print market in the peak years of the firm’s popularity.

Currier & Ives

Nathaniel Currier and James Merritt Ives after Louis Maurer, ‘Camping Out: Some of the Right Sort,’ lithograph with original hand color, New York: Currier & Ives, 1856, 21¾ x 29¼in image, 35¼ x 43¼in framed. Gale Number: 0867. Estimate: $3,000-$5,000. Arader Galleries image

One such iconic work by Currier & Ives is the 1863 print, Wooding Up on the Mississippi. The print is ranked 23rd of the “New Best 50” large folio prints (Griffiths, 1991). The Mississippi riverboat was second only to the cowboy as the quintessential American icon. Besides their profound economic and technological importance, steamboats also figured as important thematic elements in 19th-century European and American art, literature, speech and song. For example, within the works of Joseph Conrad, Charles Dickens, Edna Ferber, Jack London, Herman Melville, Eugene O’Neill, Robert Louis Stevenson and, of course, Mark Twain, steamers served as symbols for the contemporary pride and progress in technology, as metaphors for the conflict between man and nature, and as elements of plot and setting. This work wonderfully encapsulates the period of the steamboat’s transportational and cultural dominance in the United States, a position soon to be usurped by the mighty railroads.

Currier & Ives

Nathaniel Currier and James Merritt Ives after Durrie, ‘Autumn in New England. / Cider Making,’ lithograph with original hand color, New York: Currier & Ives, 1866, 18¼ x 27 1/8in, visible, 26 x 35in framed. Gale Number: 0350. Estimate: $5,000-$8,000. Arader Galleries image

Per Currier’s original advertisement: “This is a magnificent moonlight scene, with the splendid high-pressure steamboat Princess, rounded in at a wood-yard on the river, taking in wood, which the workers are hurrying aboard with all possible dispatch, while the engineer is ‘firing up,’ to be off at full speed, as a rival steamer is approaching. The saloons of the Princess are brilliantly illuminated, and the proportions of the boat are well defined in the glare of the bonfire on the shore, which lights up all the scene.”

For details contact Arader Galleries at auctions@aradernyc.com or 212-628-7625.

 

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