rare all original and largely intact c. 1871 richly colored currier and ives "the burning of chicago" hand-tinted lithograph depicting downtown chicago consumed in fire

Regular Price: $850.00

Special Price $680.00

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UR #:: UR-24084-16

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Product Description

authentic c. 1871 hand-tinted "the burning of chicago" lithographic print executed by currier & ives, lithographers, new york city, new york. the original print is mostly intact, with staining, scuff marks, gouges, etc., along the edges. the colors remain vibrant with strong impression. currier and ives was an american printmaking firm headed by nathaniel currier (1813–1888) and james merritt ives (1824–1895). based in new york city from 1834 to 1907, the prolific firm produced prints from paintings by fine artists as black and white lithographs that were hand colored. lithographic prints could be reproduced quickly and purchased inexpensively, and the firm called itself "the grand central depot for cheap and popular prints" and advertised its lithographs as "colored engravings for the people." the name currier & ives first appeared in 1857, when currier invited james merritt ives (1824–95), the company's bookkeeper and accountant, to become his partner. james merritt ives, who was born on march 5, 1824 in new york city, married caroline clark in 1852. she was the sister-in-law of nathaniel's brother, charles currier, and it was charles who recommended james ives to his brother. nathaniel currier soon noticed ives's dedication to his business and his artistic knowledge and insight into what the public wanted. the younger man quickly became the general manager of the firm, handling the financial side of the business by modernizing the bookkeeping, reorganizing inventory, and streamlining the print process. ives also helped currier interview potential artists and craftsmen. the younger man had a flair for gauging popular interests and aided in selecting the images the firm would publish and expanding the firm's range to include political satire, and sentimental scenes such as sleigh rides in the country and steamboat races. in 1857, currier made ives a full partner. the firm currier and ives described itself as "publishers of cheap and popular prints". at least 7,500 lithographs were published in the firm's 72 years of operation. artists produced two to three new images every week for 64 years (1834–1895), producing more than a million prints by hand-colored lithography. for the original drawings, currier & ives employed or used the work of many celebrated artists of the day including james e. buttersworth, charles r. parsons, george inness, thomas nast, c.h. moore, and eastman johnson. the stars of the firm were arthur fitzwilliam tait, who specialized in sporting scenes; louis maurer, who executed genre scenes; george h. durrie, who supplied winter scenes; and frances flora bond palmer, who liked to do picturesque panoramas of the american landscape, and who was the first woman in the united states to make her living as a full-time artist. all lithographs were produced on lithographic limestone printing plates on which the drawing was done by hand. a stone often took over a week to prepare for printing. each print was pulled by hand. prints were hand-colored by a dozen or more women, often immigrants from germany with an art background, who worked in assembly-line fashion, one color to a worker, and who were paid $6 for every 100 colored prints. the favored colors were clear and simple, and the drawing was bold and direct. the earliest lithographs were printed in black and then colored by hand. as new techniques were developed, publishers began to produce full-color lithographs that gradually developed softer, more painterly effects. skilled artist lithographers like john cameron, fanny palmer and others represented in the show became known for their work and signed important pieces. artists like a. f. tait became famous when their paintings were reproduced as lithographs. currier and ives was the most prolific and successful company of lithographers in the u.s. its lithographs represented every phase of american life, and included the themes of hunting, fishing, whaling, city life, rural scenes, historical scenes, clipper ships, yachts, steamships, the mississippi river, hudson river scenes, railroads, politics, comedy, gold mining, winter scenes, commentary on life, portraits, and still lifes. from 1866 on, the firm occupied three floors in a building at 33 spruce street in new york. small works sold for from five to twenty cents each and large works sold for $1 to $3 a piece. the currier and ives firm branched out from its central shop in new york city to sell prints via pushcart vendors, peddlers and book stores. the firm sold retail as well as wholesale, establishing outlets in cities across the country and in london. it also sold work through the mail (prepaid orders only), and internationally through a london office and agents in europe. the 19th-century victorian public, with its interest in current events and sentimental taste, was receptive to the firm's products. currier and ives prints were among the most popular wall hangings of the day. in 1872, the currier and ives catalog proudly proclaimed: "... our prints have become a staple article... in great demand in every part of the country... in fact without exception, all that we have published have met with a quick and ready sale. currier & ives prints were among the household decorations considered appropriate for a proper home by catharine esther beecher and harriet beecher stowe, authors of american woman's home (1869): "the great value of pictures for the home would be, after all, in their sentiment. they should express the sincere ideas and tastes of the household and not the tyrannical dicta of some art critic or neighbo." currier died in 1888. ives remained active in the firm until his death in 1895. both currier's and ives's sons followed their fathers in the business, which was eventually liquidated in 1907. because of improvements in offset printing and photoengraving, the public demand for lithographs had gradually diminished. the prints depicted a variety of images of american life, including winter scenes; horse-racing images; portraits of people; and pictures of ships, sporting events, patriotic and historical events, including ferocious battles of the american civil war, the building of cities and railroads, and lincoln's assassination. the original lithographs shared similar characteristics in inking and paper, and adhered to folio sizes. sizes of the images were standard (trade cards, very small folios, small folios, medium folios, large folios), and their measurement did not include the title or borders. currier used a cotton based, medium to heavy weight paper depending on the folio size for his prints until the late 1860s. from about 1870, currier & ives used paper mixed with a small amount of wood pulp. in addition, currier's inking process resembled a mixture of elongated splotches and dashes of ink with a few spots, a characteristic that modern reproductions would not possess. in 1907 when the firm was liquidated most of the lithographic stones had the image removed and were sold by the pound, with some stones' final home being as land fill in central park. those few stones that managed to survive intact were of large folio clipper ships, small folio dark town comics, a medium folio "abraham lincoln" and a small folio "washington as a mason".