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Louis Prang & Co. Prints


Louis Prang, from Boston, was the most prolific and influential publisher of American chromolithographs. Born in Germany, Prang learned to print in color from his father, a calico printer. In 1850, the younger Prang immigrated to the United States 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. Initially, his success was fueled by public consumption of his many small prints, which were popular for collections and albums. Within his first ten years of business, Prang started to issue color-printed copies of famous paintings and launched his magazine, Prang's Chromo: A Journal of Popular Art. Prang's prints, which were "sold in all Picture stores," were based on oils and watercolors and received highly praised from the press and many influential persons. More than any other print publisher, Prang created the market for chromolithographs in America, and his work was highly influential on firms around the country. With great success, Prang issued about 800 such art prints, advertising them as

"PRANG'S AMERICAN CHROMOS. 'THE DEMOCRACY OF ART' . . . Our Chromo Prints are absolute FACSIMILES of the originals, in color, drawing, and spirit, and their price is so low that every home may enjoy the luxury of possessing a copy of works of art, which hitherto adorned only the parlors of the rich."

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

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.

An example of the print described just above, sold singly. 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. Very good condition. In elaborate period frame.

An example of the print described just above, sold singly. 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. $425

Friend in Need
Felix Schlesinger. "A Friend In Need." Boston: L. Prang & Co., 1867. 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 were less likely to respond to the American paradigm of Johnson's image. $425

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

Just Caught
After J.F. Herring. "Just Caught." Boston: L. Prang, ca.1860- 1880's. 7 3/4 x 12 /4. Minor surface abrasions. Otherwise, very good condition. In period frame.

In addition to his American sporting images by Tait, Prang issued some British sporting prints, as popular in the nineteenth century as they are today. This bright image is based on work by one of the greatest British artists of this genre, J.F. Herring. $450

After Joseph Morviller. "Sunlight in Winter." Boston: L. Prang, ca. 1860- 1870. 16 x 23 1/2. Some surface abrasion, wear, and aged varnish. Fair condition.

A Prang image of a winter scene by American artist Joseph Morviller (1800-1870). Despite its condition problems, still a print with considerable appeal. $375

Prang: Trades & Occupations.  Printer.
Plate 12. "Trades & Occupations. Printer." From Prang's Aid for Object Teaching. Boston: L. Prang & Co, 1874. 6 5/8 x 10 7/8. Chromolithograph. Rare. In dark wood frame. Glued down but stable.

An interesting and unusual image of a tradesman's work in the 19th century. $375

Prang: Trades & Occupations.  Lithographer.
Plate 5. "Trades & Occupations. Lithographer." From Prang's Aid for Object Teaching. Boston: L. Prang & Co, 1874. 6 5/8 x 10 7/8. Chromolithograph. Rare. In dark wood frame. Some expertly repaired tears. Glued down but stable.

A great artifact documenting work in a print shop. $225

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©The Philadelphia Print Shop, Ltd. Last updated March 17, 2015