The Philadelphia Print Shop


Chromolithography: The Art of Color
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Harnett Old Violin
William M. Harnett. "The Old Violin." Covington, KY: Donaldson Art Sign Co., 1887. 34 1/2 x 23 1/2. Chromolithograph. Second state. Very good condition. Framed with original Eastlake frame. Denver.

This wonderful print is considered to be a shining example of the art of chromolithography. This print is after the oil painting by William M. Harnett, who exhibited his painting at the Cincinnati Industrial Exposition in 1886, where it became an immediate sensation. What impressed everyone who saw the canvas was its three dimensional realism. Many people thought that the newspaper clipping was real, and it is said that someone reached out to see if they could take the fiddle down from the wall. When Tuchfarber, a highly regarded Cincinnati printmaker, saw the painting, he was so overwhelmed that he immediately bought it. His purpose in this acquisition was be able to produce a chromolithographic copy of Harnett's painting. Tuchfarber of course wanted to sell these prints, but just as importantly, they were used to serve as examples of the superior quality of the chromolithographic work his firm could produce. The stones for this print were purchased by the Donaldson Art Sign Company and the print reissued in 1887, retaining its superb quality.

The artist of this work, William M. Harnett, was born in Philadelphia in 1848, where until the age of 27 he engraved silver. During this period Harnett studied drawing at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art and at the National Academy of Design in New York. He began oil painting in 1875 due to the scarcity of work as a silver engraver, though why Harnett decided on a life as a still life painter is unknown. His work in oil can be divided into two periods, the first beginning in Philadelphia from 1876 and 1880 and the second in New York from 1886 and 1892. In between these two periods Harnett studied in Europe, where he was greatly influenced by the seventeen century Dutch painters. In New York he produced his finest works, all of which are compositions of objects hanging on a painted door. This style of painting was called trompe l'oeil still life and is often considered the high point in nineteenth century realism. Overall, a wonderful example of chromolithography at its best, and a rare impression of an important American painting. $3,500




Peale: Court of Death
Rembrandt Peale. "The Court of Death." New York: G. Q. Colton, [1859?]. 15 x 26 1/2. Chromolithograph by Sarony & Major. Very good condition. With descriptive key. Ref: Marzio, The Democratic Art, p. 51.

This print is after the painting by Rembrandt Peale (1778-1860). Born in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, he was the son of Charles Willson Peale. Rembrandt travelled to England and studied under Benjamin West from 1801 to 1803. A founder of the National Academy of Design, Peale is best known for his portrait of George Washington. Other important paintings of his are "Napoleon on Horseback," "The Roman Daughter," and portraits of Thomas Jefferson and Gilbert Stuart.

"The Court of Death," painted in 1820, was one of the most popular paintings of that decade. In the first year of its traveling exhibition, Peale earned over $8,000 in admissions, and it continued to be exhibited for half a century. The size of the canvas was a huge 11 feet by 23 feet, and was based upon a poem by the recently deceased Bishop of London, Beilby Porteus. Death is represented enthroned in a gloomy cave, his feet resting on the body of a man stricken in the prime of life. Surrounding him are his agents: War, Conflagration, Famine, Pestilence, Pleasure, Intemperance, Remorse, Delirium Tremens, Suicide, and an array of deadly diseases. Before the throne is Old Age who is supported by Faith. Members of the Peale family posed for most of the figures with the artist's daughter as the women and his famous father as "Old Age." Much was made in the time that the corpse was based on an actual cadaver from a medical school in Philadelphia. Two large prints were published by Colton but involved different processes. One was this chromolithograph printed by Sarony & Major, and the second was a wood engraving by Loomis and Annin. $1,400



HopeSpacerPurity
John George Brown. Pair of "Snedecor's Chromos": "Hope" and "Purity." New York: J. Snedecor, 1870. Chromolithographs by H. Bencke. 21 1/2 x 14 3/8. Mounted on canvas and on original stretchers. In original frames. Some wear to frames, especially to velvet panels. "Purity" with tear in sky. As found.

An unrecorded pair of prints by the famous American genre artist John George Brown (1831-1913). Born in Durham, England, on the 11th of November 1831, Brown studied at Newcastle-on-Type, in the Edinburgh Academy, and after moving to New York City in 1853, at the schools of the National Academy of Design. In 1866 he became one- of the charter members of, the Water-Color Society, of which he was president from 1887 to 1904. He is best known for his images of children, though usually street urchins rather than the beatific young ladies depicted here.

Here we have a pair of prints designed to provide morally uplifting images for the home, with figures representing the virtues of hope and purity. Catherine E. Beecher & Harriet Beecher Stowe, in The American Women's Home (1869), said this about the role of such prints, "The educating influence of these works of art can hardly be overestimated. Surrounded by such suggestions of the beautiful, and such reminders of history and art, children are constantly trained to correctness of taste and refinement of thought, and stimulated-sometimes to efforts at artistic imitation, always to the eager and intelligent inquiry about the scenes, the places, the incidents represented." We have been unable to find any record of J. Snedecor nor his "Chromos," so this may have been a failed attempt to break into the market for top end chromolithographs that had been pioneered by Prang. Despite this apparent lack of success for these prints, their quality is very fine and the artist an important one, making them wonderful example of Victorian American prints for the home. For the pair, $1,200



Other prints by J.G. Brown



Magdalena
After Correggio. "Correggio's Magdalena." Boston: L. Prang & Co., 1867. 12 3/4 x 16 1/2. Chromolithograph. Mounted on board and with original label as issued. In elaborate period frame. Very good condition.

This lovely image was aimed at those who desired the sophistication of European oils but could not afford to purchase the real thing. Though affordable compared to paintings, this print was still one of the most expensive Prang issued, selling for $10. Even for the price, consumers felt this was a worthy buy - as the art journal The Aldine noted in 1869, "For ten dollars the working man may glorify his house with one of Correggio's masterpieces." A nice example of Prang's most beloved type of print. $950



Louis Prang, Barefoot Boy
Eastman Johnson. "The Barefoot Boy." Boston: L. Prang & Co., 1867-69. 12 3/4 x 9 3/4. Chromolithograph. In classic period frame.

Johnson's "The Barefoot Boy" is one of the most famous of all Prang's chromos, advertised by Prang as the personification of the American character: the boy "in homespun clothing, barefooted," symbolizing "that self-reliant aspect which characterizes the rural and backwoods children." Based by Eastman Johnson on John Greenleaf Whittier's poem, "The Barefoot Boy," the print was praised in magazines and books as the paradigm of the quality chromolithographs could display, and Prang claimed that it was "the most popular of all our publications." It took three months to make the twenty-six stones used to make this print and another five months to print the first run. For promotion, Prang provided free copies to the poet and painter and then quoted their replies in his advertisements. Whittier wrote, "It is a charming illustration of my little poem, and in every way satisfactory as a work of art"; and Johnson claimed that, "It strikes me as being one of the best chromolithographs I have ever seen." This print is not only a classic American genre image, but it is a wonderful example of the quality of prints published by the greatest of American chromolithograph publishers. $600



George Lambdin, Wild Fruit
George C. Lambdin, "Wild Fruit." Boston: L. Prang & Co., 1867-69. 12 3/4 x 9 3/4. Chromolithograph. Mounted on boards with original label. In elaborate period frame.

Prang was inspired by the popularity of Eastman Johnson's "The Barefoot Boy" to commission a companion image from George C. Lambdin. Lambdin was an artist from Germantown, PA, who later moved to New York City where he was elected an Academician at the National Academy. Lambdin painted genre and military scenes, but later in his life he devoted his time to paintings of flowers. This Lambdin painting shows a shy little girl, barefoot, leaning on a tree and holding a hand-full of grapes. This image, entitled "Wild Fruit," was published as a companion chromolithograph by Prang two years after Johnson's "Barefoot Boy." Each print beautifully express the ideal image of American youth - innocent and unspoiled - that was prevalent after the Civil War. With its deep color and rich texture, this print is also an excellent example of the work of one of the greatest American publishers of chromolithographs. $375



Barefoot BoySpacerWild Fruit
Eastman Johnson, "The Barefoot Boy" and George C. Lambdin, "Wild Fruit." Boston: L. Prang & Co., 1867-69. 12 3/4 x 9 3/4. Mounted on boards with original labels. Some surface blemishes and wear, but overall very good condition. In period wood frames. Denver.

A matching pair of Prang's most popular genre prints, in period frames. $800



Why Don't They Bite
W.H. Hilliard. "Why Don't They Bite?" New York: Colton, Zahm & Roberts, 1869. 10 x 14 1/4. Mounted on board with original label, as issued. Very good condition. In period frame. Denver.

A delightful image of a young boy, in straw hat, fishing with a line on a stick, clearly without success. $300



Hurrah for the snow
"Hurrah for the snow." Portland: H. Hallett & Co., 1879. 13 x 19. Chromolithograph. A few minor surface blemishes. Framed.

A charming genre scene by Portland, Maine published H. Hallett & Co. A young man probably on his way to school (note the chalk board hanging from his pouch) is delighted by the snow, preparing to launch a snow ball. $275



Mother and children
[Mother with children at bedtime.] Boston: J.H. Bufford, 1872. Subscriber print for The Christian At Work. Chromolithograph. 14 1/4 x 11. Mounted on board as issued. In fine period frame.

This image, of a mother with her two daughters, was issued as a bonus print for the subscribers of The Christian at Work. It is a fine example of chromolithography and of American genre art. $425



Friend in Need
Felix Schlesinger. "A Friend In Need." Boston: L. Prang & Co., 1867. 16 1/2 x 13. Chromolithograph. Mounted on board with original label. Very good condition. Framed.

This print reflects Prang's own response to the success of "The Barefoot Boy." Based on a painting by a German artist, the European dress and setting would have appealed to the huge potential market of European immigrants, who might not respond to the American paradigm of Johnson's image. $425



Little Students
"Little Students." Boston: D. Lothrop & Co., 1872. Chromolithograph by Hencke & Scott. 13 x 16 1/4. Mounted on board, as issued. With original label and in period frame. Very good condition.

A charming example of a American post-Civil War chromolithograph. These prints, popularized by Louis Prang, were intended to allow middle class families to own art work that had the appearance of original paintings, but without the same cost. This print was issued by Daniel Lothrop, who in 1868 began to publish children's books, adding a children's magazine, Wide Awake, in 1875. This particular image is some sort of promotion for his books, which are clearly shown being read and sitting on the floor and table, each elaborate binding and title clearly depicted. An most unusual aspect of the print is the cover of the book in the bottom right has a promissory note for $1,000, referring to "The Thousand Dollar Prize Series." It is possible that this print was intended to be hung in book stores, or perhaps was given out to subscribers, but whatever its history, it is a charming example of American chromolithography. $425



Goodnight, Frolic  and  So Tired
"So Tired." and "Good-night, Frolic." Chromolithographs. New York: Brett & Co., 1872. 16 x 12. With original labels and period frames. Colors strong and bright with some light wear. Very good condition. Denver.

In these two images, young girls are perfectly at their leisure, enjoying time for a relaxing read or playful fun with the pet kitten. Probably issued as a subscription bonus, these prints were designed to appeal to the readers of The Independent, who might hang these prints in a bedroom or sitting room. $375 each.




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