A spectacular American chromolithograph of Thomas Moran's famous image of the Grand Canyon from the Hermit Rim. Moran is one of America's best painters of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, and he is particularly known for his luminous paintings of the American west. Moran was born in England in 1837 and immigrated to the U.S. with his family in 1844. Moran trained in England and Europe, but his best work is rooted in the natural wonders of his adopted country.
Moran accompanied the 1871 Ferdinand V. Hayden expedition to the Yellowstone, and upon his return he produced a superb group of watercolors which Boston publisher Louis Prang turned into 15 chromolithographs which he issued in a portfolio limited to 1,000 copies. The success of these marvelous prints inspired Moran to head west again two years later. In 1873 he joined John Wesley Powell, who had navigated the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon in 1869, on another expedition to the Grand Canyon. This trip resulted in a painting taken from the Kaibab Plateau on the north rim, which in turn was turned into this stunning chromolithograph.
The promotion of the Grand Canyon was pursued by corporations that stood to profit from their association. The Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway looked to art as one of many ways to increase the number of passengers on its railways. For many years the company was the only direct route to the Grand Canyon. Along with Moran, the company also financed other artists to visit the area to paint. In this way the Company acquired a large collection of original art to decorate stations, offices and hotels. Some of the paintings were reproduced on letterheads, ink blotters and chromolithographs, which were distributed to passengers as souvenirs or printed as public advertisements. Moran's original painting is still in the possession of the company. However, the Santa Fe did not acquire the painting directly from Moran, but purchased it from the American Lithographic Co., who had bought it from Moran's Chicago dealer. For the sum of $4,000 the railroad received the oil and reproduction rights along with 2,500 chromolithographs that the Passenger Department distributed. This grand image was also reproduced in the company's annual calendars for many years. The American Lithographic Co. also produced an earlier and equally excellent chromolithograph in 1892 of a different Moran view of the Grand Canyon. $4,500
Another example of the Moran Grand Canyon image, but this with some fading and discoloration from varnish. Still a nice example of this classic print. $2,800
In the second half of the nineteenth century, print publishers began to issue chromolithographs that were intended to duplicate the appearance of oil paintings. This style of print was developed by Prang & Co. out of Boston, but soon other publishers joined in. These prints were a way for Americans of the middle class to hang art work that had the appearance of oil paintings in their homes at prices they could afford. Colton, Zahm, & Roberts was a firm from New York that issued a number of these prints, including this lovely view of Yosemite Valley, with Cathedral Rock in the distance. The artist was listed on the original label, but it has been so worn as to be illegible. The composition and quality of this print indicates the artist was of some skill. With the handsome original frame, this is a fine example of American printmaking in the post-Civil War period. $1,200
James M. Hart. "Scene near Farmington, Ct. Autumn." Boston: L. Prang & Co., 1871. Chromolithograph. 9 x 16. Mounted on board with original label. Slight blemish in sky. Otherwise, very good condition. In period frame.
Louis Prang was the most successful American publisher of chromolithographs partly because he had a good sense of what the general public liked. One of the most popular subjects for art was views of American scenes, and this charming image of the landscape near Farmington, Connecticut is a fine example of such a view by Prang. Taken from a painting by James M. Hart, and it is a fine scene of New England in the autumn. $475
"On the Saco River, New Hampshire. Ca. 1870-80. Chromolithograph. 9 x 13 1/4. Mounted on board as issued. Very good condition. In period frame.
Chromolithography was developed by publishers in the later part of the nineteenth century as a medium to produce inexpensive prints that filled the demand for attractive images to hang in homes of those that could not afford original paintings. One of the more popular subject matters for these prints was American views. This charming image shows the Saco River in New Hampshire. $275
John Ross Key. "Stockbridge Bowl. Lenox, Mass." Chromolithograph. 8 3/8 x 14 4/8. Mounted on board, as issued. With original (worn) label. In period frame, with considerable wear but still attractive. Very good condition.
John Ross Key (1832-1920) was a landscape painter and illustrator, born in Hagerstown, Maryland. He was the grandson of Francis Scott Key, author of "The Star Spangled Banner." Educated in Munich and Paris, Key worked in Boston for a number of years and achieved fame as an illustrator of the Union siege of Charleston, S.C. during the American Civil War. After the hostilities Key wanted to return to peaceful scenes and a celebration of the beauties of landscape. During the second part of the nineteenth century, Key produced a number of charming painting of American scenes which were subsequently turned into chromolithographs. This type of print, best known from those produced by Prang & Co., were intended to duplicate the appearance of original oil paintings, thus allowing middle class Americans to hang attractive and sophisticated art in their homes. This is a fine example of both Key's art and an American chromolithograph. Issued by H. Wood, Jr. as part of "Wood's American Chromos," the scene is of the Stockbridge Bowl in western Massachusetts. $450
Attributed to Guido Hampe (German School). [Scene in Europe] Cincinnati: William M. Donaldson, circa. 1873-85. Chromolithograph. 21 1/2 x 29 1/2. In period frame 26 x 34. Repaired tears in upper right sky and on hills to right; inpainted. Ref.: Marzio, Democratic Art, 179 and Last, Color Explosion, 68-69.
An example of a large American chromolithograph by the famed Donaldson Lithographing Company. Peter Marzio, discussing oleographs as a "German variety of chromo that was printed in dark, thick inks and heavily coated with varnish" describes this view as possibly one of twenty-six based on works by German artists that Donaldson advertised "in about 1880." The printing method would appeal to German-Americans in the Ohio and Mississippi valleys, and the subject matter of European landscapes by the prolific and popular Hampe (1839-1903) fits his work. Hampe's oils all are landscapes of European, especially German and Swiss, landscapes. That the credit at lower left is to "W. M. Donaldson" is indicative that he was on his own after his first partner Henry Elmes died in 1872. A lovely example of art for the immigrant. $250
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