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Lasting Impressions: The Artists of Currier & Ives

Calling itself the “Grand Central Depot for Cheap and Popular Prints,” Currier & Ives was a firm of printmakers and publishers founded in New York in 1834 by Nathaniel Currier (1813–1888) and, after 1857, headed by Currier and his partner, James Merritt Ives (1824–1895). It was one of the most successful commercial publishers of hand-colored lithographs in nineteenth-century America, producing more than 7,500 titles and selling hundreds of thousands of prints during their seventy-three years of operation.

Among the firm’s images, a limited collection of large and medium folio prints presented the work of important New York artists in lithographic form. The drawings, paintings, and prints in this online exhibition are the work of two of these artists: Frances Flora Bond Palmer (1812–1876) and Arthur Fitzwilliam Tait (1819–1905). They reveal the artists’ drawing and lithographic techniques, their accomplishments with the crayon, and highlight the lithographic and coloring processes developed in collaboration with publishers to translate artistic visions into reality.

Considered fine prints rather than commercial lithographs, Tait and Palmer's lithographs invite us to rethink the artistic value of Currier & Ives' large folios, which are among today’s most sought-after Currier & Ives prints.