[ Politicians | Army Officers | Naval Officers ]
[ Portrait Backgrounds | Portfolios of Portraits ]
Perhaps in late 1861, but certainly by mid-1862, the Cincinnati lithographic firm of Ehrgott, Forbriger & Co. began to issue a series of portraits of Civil War figures: politicians as well as military and naval officers. These prints, which the firm continued to issue at least as late as 1864, were of a type published by other lithographic firms of the day, for instance Currier & Ives, E.B. & E.C. Kellogg, Gibson & Co., and J.H. Bufford. The subject was shown in an idealized setting, often with troops for the Generals, ships for the Admirals, and an appropriately impressive setting for the politicians. Some of the early images issued by Ehrgott, Forbriger & Co. were chromolithographs or had tint stones, but later they were issued simply as uncolored lithographs. While of a familiar type of print, there are two particularly interesting aspects of these prints which do not apply to the other publisher's prints; viz. their use of repeated backgrounds and their being issued in bound portfolios.
As discussed in Milt Kaplan's "Heads of States" (Winterthur Portfolio 6. Charlottesville, 1970 Pp. 135-150), prints of different figures share the same, or very similar backgrounds, with the identical horses, landscapes, troops, ships, desks, and so forth. [Cf. illustrations of Gens. Franklin (left) and Fremont (right)] We have recorded nine different political figures, all of which share the same background. We have recorded 52 different military figures, appearing in 62 different images, sharing fifteen backgrounds (six of which have variations, for a total of 27 distinct backgrounds). We have recorded eight different naval figures sharing five distinct backgrounds. While some of the backgrounds appear only in one prints, others are shared by between three and five figures, and one has as many as seven different generals. Many of the backgrounds have no variations, but a number have between three and five variations. [ Click here for listing and description of the different backgrounds ]
The second unusual feature of these prints is that they were sold in bound portfolios. Four different portfolios of these prints have been identified, and two other groupings of prints (at the Library of Congress and the Clements Library) may also have been sold as portfolios. [Click here for description of these portfolios and complete listing of their prints] The existence of a number of these portfolios and their common characteristics-similar order, bindings, use of same non-Ehrgott, Forbriger & Co. prints of George Washington and General Scott, etc.-make it fairly certain that these were put together by one source rather than gathered by different collectors who had purchased the prints separately. There is no evidence whether it was Ehrgott, Forbriger & Co. who issued these portfolios or a book/printseller in Cincinnati in the 1860s, but clearly these volumes were initially sold as bound portfolios of Civil War figures.
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