The Philadelphia Print Shop

Chromolithography: The Art of Color

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Albert Bierstadt. "Sunlight and Shadow." New York: Emil Seitz, 1864. Chromolithograph printed in Berlin by Oeldruck V. Storch & Kramer. 22 x 18 1/2 (image). Chromolithograph. Signed and dated in the image lower right. Print mounted to original backing as issued with original label mounted on verso. In period frame. Print has been de-acidified. Very scarce. Very good to excellent condition. Denver.

Bierstadt is considered one of the greatest painters of the American west. Bierstadt (1830-1902) was born in Germany, near Düsseldorf, grew up in the United States, and in his twenties studied at the Düsseldorf Academy in Germany. There he was deeply impressed by the tradition of heroic painting for which that school was famous. Bierstadt is well known for his grand painting and prints of the American West.

Painted in 1862, "Sunlight and Shadow," represented Bierstadt's first critical and popular success and the painting was sent to Berlin to be chromolithographed. This print is his first major reproduction executed on a rather grand scale. The print was touted as the "the finest specimen of the art yet seen in the country." Bierstadt was one of the first artists to use chromolithography to expand the market for their art and chose a German lithographic firm capable of reproducing his work in printed colors. This print depicts a shaded European church door and the wonderful dappling of light and shadow that is cast on the statues, church door and cobblestones. $3,200

Whittier's Birthplace
Thomas Hill. "Birthplace of Whittier, The Poet." [Haverhill, Mass.] Boston: L. Prang & Co., ca. 1865. Chromolithograph. 17 x 26. Mounted on original canvas and stretcher and in original wood frame. With some small repairs in image. Overall, very good condition and appearance.

There were several levels of quality for Prang's chromolithographs, with the most elaborate published backed on linen and stretcher, as in the case of this excellent print of the home in Haverhill, Massachusetts, where John Greenleaf Whittier was born on December 17, 1807. American views were particular popular subjects for Prang's chromolithographs and this is one of the larger and better quality prints issued by the firm, evidence of the popularity of the home of this American poet and abolitionist. $850

Hill: Yosemite Valley
Thomas Hill. "Yosemite Valley." Boston: L. Prang, 1869. 15 1/2 x 25 1/2. Chromolithograph. Margins trimmed to image and mounted onto original canvas and stretcher as issued. Some light creases and touch up in sky and middle distance, but still very attractive with vibrant color. In original period frame. Framed size is 23 x 33. Very rare. Denver.

Thomas Hill was born in Birmingham England and moved with his family to Taunton, Massachusetts in 1844. Hill studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts under Peter F. Rothermel. Hill began his painting career as a New England artist along with a group of others artists/friends that included Asher B. Durand, George Inness Benjamin Champney, Albert Bierstadt and others. Hill moved to California in 1861 for health reasons and painted Yosemite for the first time in 1862. From 1868 to 1870 Hill resided in Boston and exhibited his monumental painting of the Yosemite Valley. The painting was exhibited in Philadelphia at the Centennial Exhibition and was considered one of the best on display. The painting sold for a princely sum of $5000. Louis Prang, a color printer in Boston was so impressed with this painting that he ordered a small painted copy which Hill himself produced from which the chromolithograph was then made. The print was so well received by the public that Hills work became famous afterward. Hill returned to Yosemite to live and paint until his death in 1908.

Louis Prang was the most successful American publisher of chromolithographs. Born in Germany, Prang learned to print in color from his father, who was a calico printer. He immigrated to the United States in 1850 for political reasons. After a short-lived partnership as a chromolithographic printmaker with Julius Mayer (Prang & Mayer), Prang set up his own firm of L. Prang & Co. in 1860. His initial success came from his many small prints collected by members of the public and kept in albums. By the 1860s, Prang stated to issue color-printed copies of famous paintings and launched his magazine, Prang's Chromo: A Journal of Popular Art. Prang's prints based on oils and watercolors were highly praised by the press and many influential persons, and these art prints became hugely successful. Eventually Prang issued about 800 chromolithographs of this sort, which he advertised as: "PRANG'S AMERICAN CHROMOS. 'THE DEMOCRACY OF ART' . . . Our Chromo Prints are absolute FACSIMILES of the originals, in color, drawing, and spirit." Prang used the paintings of many of America's leading artists to produce his prints, including those by A.F. Tait, Eastman Johnson, Thomas Moran, F.S. Church, and Albert Bierstadt. This print after the Thomas Hill painting is a superior example of the quality that chromolithography could achieve. $3,600

Narragansett Bay
"Narragansett Bay." Boston: J.H. Bufford, ca. 1870. Chromolithograph. 5 1/4 x 6 3/4 image on 8 3/4 x 10 7/8 decorative backing sheet. Backing sheet somewhat brittle and with some stains and other blemishes. Image, very good.

In the second part of the nineteenth century, a number of publishers, led by Louis Prang, issued chromolithographed prints which were intended to duplicate the appearance of oil paintings. This allowed middle class Americans to be able to hang sophisticated looking art on their homes at affordable prices. This is such a print, issued by John H. Bufford from Boston. It shows sailing ships at night in Narragansett Bay. It is mounted on a backing sheet with decorative border, indicating that this lovely image was clearly intended for framing and display. $165

Lake Chocorhua
"Lake Chocorhua & White Mts." Ca. 1870. Chromolithograph on canvas. Original frame. Very good condition.

An anonymous chromolithograph of Lake Chocorhua and the White Mountains, probably produced in New England. Similar to a Prang print, the leaves are shown in their autumn splendor and this is a charming scene. $375

"Autumn on the Kennebec, Maine." Ca. 1870. Chromolithograph. 8 1/2 x 13 1/4. Mounted on board as issued. In period frame.

An attractive autumnal scene of Kennebec, Maine. This is a nice example of the chromolithographs issued in the second part of the nineteenth century. This print is unattributed, but it is of a typical quality of the better publishers of the second half of the nineteenth century. A lovely print that is a fine exemplar of the period. $325

Champney Yosemite
Benjamin Champney. "Yosemite Valley." Boston: Dodge, Collier & Perkins, 1872. Chromolithograph. 24 1/4 x 15 1/4. Margins trimmed to image and mounted onto original canvas and stretcher as issued. A few small cracks and old small tear. Otherwise, very good condition. In original period frame. Denver.

An unusual and apparently unrecorded view of Yosemite Valley by Benjamin Champney. Champney is usually synonymous with White Mountain paintings of the 19th century. Most art historians consider him the founder of the White Mountain School of painters who came to North Conway and the surrounding area during the second half of the 19th century. Born in New Ipswich, NH on November 17, 1817, Champney began his training as a lithographer under Pendleton in Boston. He visited the Conway area for the first time in 1838. Champney also studied with Robert Cooke, with whom he went to Paris in 1841, on the advice of Washington Allston. Champney returned to Boston in 1846 and then traveled back to Europe almost at once to paint a panorama of the Rhine River. Once again in Boston in 1848, he exhibited the panorama there and in New York City where the panorama was subsequently destroyed by fire in 1853. In 1850 Champney visited the White Mountains again with his friend John F. Kensett; their enthusiasm and paintings drew large numbers of Boston and New York artists to the Conway area. Champney's studio was a noted resort and was visited by many people from all parts of the country. In 1853 Champney married and bought a house between Conway and North Conway, making this his summer home for over fifty years. In 1854 he again returned to Europe on a painting trip to Germany and Switzerland with Kensett.

At some point is seems that Champney ventured to the west, visiting Yosemite. This was likely to visit an old friend, Thomas Hill, who had moved from the east and established a successful career making paintings of Yosemite. This picture is a classic western scene, with no evidence of Anglo infiltration, for the scene shows the valley with a Native American village and figures on horseback or in a canoe. Champney's paintings paintings were often used to make chromolithographs that were subsequently sold to tourists who could not afford Champney's originals. Mostly the prints illustrated the White Mountains and many were published by Louis Prang, the leading chromolithographic printmaker of the nineteenth century. Champney's canvas, "Lake Chocorua and Mountain," was made into a chromolithograph by Dodge, Collier & Perkins. Little is known about the company other than that they sold frames, put their name on some stereoviews, and produced at least two chromolithographs after Champney. This is the second and it is not only previously unknown, but its lovely tones and charming composition show that Champney's art translated nicely from the east coast. $2,600

Yosemite Valley. Washington: D.S. Norris & Co, 1873. Chromolithograph by Charles H. Crosby & Co., Boston. 14 x 20. With small margins around (these would often have been removed in framing), and including alignment marks for the chromolithography. Slight chipping to margins. Overall, very good condition. Denver.

A lovely image of Yosemite Valley produced by the Charles Crosby's chromolithographic firm. Not as well-known as the more famous Boston firm of Louis Prang, Crosby had a similar business of producing chromolithographs intended to have the appearance of oil paintings so that the general public could hang "fine art" in their homes. Yosemite first came to the nation's consciousness in the 1850s and 60s, being set aside as park land in the Yosemite Grant of 1864, but with the completion of the transcontinental railroad in 1869, this became a prime destination for those in the east. Naturally, this created an interest in images of this magnificent natural wonder, which was met by Crosby with this fine chromolithograph. The view is, as it happens, very similar to the Thomas Hill chromolithograph of Yosemite published by Prang in 1869, and it is not unlikely that Crosby's staff artist essentially copied Hill's image with some minor modifications. One reference gives the artist as C. Clarke, but no further information has been found on that artist. Whatever its source, it was prints like this, which would have hung in many post-Civil War homes, which helped form the image many Americans had of Yosemite. $425

Demorest Magazine Yosemite
"by one of the first artists in America" "Yosemite Falls." New York: W.J. Demorest, 1872. Chromolithograph. 12 x 10. With original frame and advertising label. Conserved and refit with rag backing. Denver.

"A Magnificent Prize! Surpassing All Other Offers. Each Subscriber To Demorest's Monthly Magazine, at Three Dollars a year, will be presented with a premium of Two Elegant Chromos, companion pictures of the two most desirable and popular subjects in America-the Falls of Niagara and Yosemite Falls." So is described the offer from W. Jennings Demorest to his subscribers in 1872. The original chromolithographs ("the best pictures ever published for Ten Dollars, and are veritable gems, worthy of being enshrined in an honored place in our homes") were sent to each subscriber who paid the $3.08 shipping cost. Though probably sent out in the thousands, this and the companion print of Niagara Falls are very rare images. $525

Strobridge: Otterbein University
"Otterbein University, Westerville, Ohio. R. T. Brookes, Architect." 14 x 20 (image). Published ca. 1872. Chromolithograph by Strobridge & Co. Left and right hand margins trimmed just into the image. Expertly repaired tear in bottom margin that extends 1/8 of an inch into the image. Otherwise, fine condition and color.

Originally founded in 1847 by the Church of the United Brethren in Christ, Otterbein University was named after Reverend Phillip Otterbein who was founder of the religious group in the late 18th century. The university is the second oldest coeducational school in the United States and is not far from Columbus, Ohio. The four year liberal arts college is well known for it theatrical arts program. The building depicted in the print is an excellent example of Victorian Gothic architecture. Known today as Towers Hall it was built in 1871 following a fire that consumed the previous building. In 1982, Towers Hall was restored and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

This print was produced in Cincinnati by Strobridge & Company who can trace its roots to 1849, to the founding of Elijah Middleton's print publishing enterprise. Middleton began producing lithographs in the 1850s, shortly before Hines Strobridge joined the firm in 1855. Strobridge achieved partnership in 1859, and took over the company completely in 1861. Producing battle prints for national sale, the firm thrived during the Civil War. Suffering a devastating fire in 1865, the company rebounded by making its printing processes even more efficient for high-volume commercial production. Most well-known for their theatrical and circus posters, they also participated in printing and selling the sort of stock print that sustained many printing businesses. This print is a fine historical document and a colorful decorative image. $975

Cliffs of Green River
Thomas Moran. "The Cliffs of Green River." [Wyoming.] Premium for The Aldine. New York, 1874. 12 x 16. Chromolithograph. Mounted on original board as issued. Some light touchup in sky. Very good condition. With period frame. Denver.

The Aldine was published from 1868 until 1879 as "the art journal of America." Within its pages were fine commissioned images by such famous artists as Thomas Moran. Like other magazines of the period, The Aldine issued some separate prints as premiums for subscribers, including two fine chromolithographs after Moran that were issued in 1874. One scene was of the West ("The Cliffs of Green River") and one of the West ("White Mountains.") In the promotion for the prints, The Aldine's editors stated that the "chromos are each worked from thirty distinct plates, and are in size (12 x 16) and appearance exact facsimiles of the originals." Moran was quoted as saying "I am delighted with the proofs in color of your chromos. They are wonderfully successful representations by mechanical process of the original paintings." $1,500

White Mountains
Thomas Moran. "White Mountains." Premium for The Aldine. New York, 1874. 11 x 14. Mounted on original board, with original label. With cracks and bend across center of image.

The Aldine was published from 1868 until 1879 as "the art journal of America." Within its pages were fine commissioned images by such famous artists as Thomas Moran. Like other magazines of the period, The Aldine issued some separate prints as bonuses for subscribers, including this fine chromolithograph after Moran. Moran "expressed his entire satisfaction with this reproduction, pronouncing its accuracy, 'wonderful.'" $600

Across the Rocky Mountains
"Across the Rocky Mountains." Cincinnati: William M. Donaldson & Co., 1879. 22 1/2 x 29 1/2. Chromolithograph. Margins trimmed to image as originally issued. Very good condition. In period frame. Denver.

A majestic Western scene, produced in chromolithography by the Donaldson company in Cincinnati. This firm specialized in circus posters, but also produced fine chromolithographs for framing and display, such as this dramatic print. The Rocky Mountains are shown towering over a forested valley. Snow, clouds and mist hug the mountain peaks. In the foreground are some Indians pointing as the train bursts thru the tunnel opening. Much of the West was still unknown at this time. The whole scene is a wonderful representation of Manifest Destiny. Man's ability to over come any topographical obstacle and his inevitable quest to conquer the West. Overall a very atmospheric and dramatic image of the Rocky Mountains. $2,600

Lake George
Andrew W. Melrose. "Lake George." [Sabbath Day Point/Roger's Slide]. Washington: A. Melrose, ca. 1885. 21 1/2 x 35 1/2. Chromolithograph by Raphael Tuck and Sons. Margins trimmed to image as issued. Vibrant colors. Very good to excellent condition.

Andrew Melrose (1836-1901) was an artist of American landscapes. He had studios in Hoboken and Guttenburg, New Jersey during the 1870s and 1880s. He is particularly known for his paintings of views from North Carolina to New England, though he also produced images of Ireland, the Tyrol and Cornwall, England. This lovely and colorful Adirondack scene shows the area of Sabbath Day Point, near the present day town of Hague, New York. The view is looking north. In the background, on the left is Roger's Slide. In foreground, is a cabin with people unloading provisions on the shore. In the middle distance a flat bottom boat is ferrying people to another location on the lake. Melrose published a number of large chromolithographs after his paintings. Many artists tried selling these large and colorful prints to make extra money and to help establish their reputations. This is an excellent example of nineteenth century chromolithography used to reproduce American paintings. $2,400

Yosemite: Three Brothers"The Three Brothers." From Warren Cheyney. Yosemite Illustrated in Colors. San Francisco: H. S. Crocker, 1890. Approximately 9 1/2 x 7 (vignette). Chromolithograph after watercolor and oil sketch by H.W. Hansen. Very good condition. Denver.

First published in 1890, the beautiful book from which this print comes was the earliest coffee table books to illustrate the wonders of Yosemite. Its was issued as part of a promotion to establish Yosemite as a tourist destination and national park. It features twelve chromolithographs, each with a small poem by Harry Dix, after the paintings of H.W. Hansen and Carll Dahlgren.

H. W. Hansen (1854-1924) was born in Dithmarschen, Germany and studied painting until he emigrated to the United States in 1877. He settled in Chicago to study at the Art Institute. In 1882, he moved to San Francisco and over a period time he made several sketching expeditions to various parts of the West. In general, his paintings were very popular with collectors during the early 20th century and his work, at the time, was favorably compared to Remington.

Carll Dahlgren (1841-1920) was born in Denmark and studied at the Copenhagen Academy of Arts. In 1872, he and his brother immigrated to Salt Lake City. There he worked briefly as an artist- draftsman for the Surveyor General. Five years later he moved to San Francisco and became involved in the San Francisco Art Association. The majority of his work were landscapes but he did a series of street scenes of San Francisco following the earthquake of 1906. His work can be recognized by a shaft of sunlight which is often found in his images. Overall, a wonderful scenic views of the famous National Park. $175

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