Currier and Ives

Nathaniel Currier was born in Massachusetts in 1813. His father died when he was 8 years old, leaving he and his brother to provide for their family of five. After scraping by with the odd job until he was 15, Currier got an opportunity to apprentice in the lithography shop of William and John Pendleton. This apprenticeship gave him valuable craft experience and eventually led him to have a relatively successful endeavor in printing illustrations of current events under his own firm in 1835; the most popular of these were illustrations of disaster. After this initial success, the firm of "N. Currier, Lithographer" went from being a job printing facility to a primarily independent print publisher.

James Merritt Ives was initially brought on as an accountant and a bookkeeper after Currier's brother, Charles, recommended him. After proving his worth not only as an efficient businessman, but also as a keen sensibility to the kind of art the public wanted, Ives was promoted to partner. From that point forward the two men worked together to become a household name, and the most successful lithographers in the United States at that time. Their motto, "Publishers of Cheap and Popular Prints" went from hand colored lithographs to the full color artists' works and painting reproductions.

This Currier and Ives print is from the period in time when the print was the image rendered in black and white on the third floor of the firm and then the print would be hand colored on the fifth floor. This means that although this is a print, somebody in 1875 actually sat down and individually painted the sweeping, colorful landscape and sky.



Name: Midnight Race on the Mississippi | Date of Print: 1875 | Type of Print: Lithograph | Artist: Nathaniel Currier and James Merritt Ives | Nationality: American | Artist Life Span: 1813–1888 and 1824–1895