Currier And Ives USA
3-27-1813 Roxbury, USA – 11-20-1888 Brooklyn, USABack to Artist IndexView Artists Paintings
Nathaniel Currier was the second of four children. When Nathaniel was eight years old, tragedy struck. Nathaniel's father unexpectedly died, leaving Nathaniel and his eleven-year-old brother Lorenzo to provide for the family. At fifteen, he started what would become a lifelong career when he apprenticed in the Boston lithography shop of William and John Pendleton. In 1835 and set up shop alone, working as "N. Currier, Lithographer" until 1856. In 1835, he created a lithograph that illustrated a fire sweeping through New York City's business district. The print of the Merchant's Exchange sold thousands of copies in four days. Realizing that there was a market for current news.
The name Currier & Ives first appeared in 1857, when Currier invited James Merritt Ives (1824–95), the company's bookkeeper and accountant, to become his partner. Nathaniel Currier soon noticed Ives's dedication to his business and his artistic knowledge and insight into what the public wanted. The younger man had a flair for gauging popular interests and aided in selecting the images the firm would publish and expanding the firm's range to include political satire, and sentimental scenes such as sleigh rides in the country and steamboat races. In 1857, Currier made Ives a full partner.
Artists produced two to three new images every week for 64 years (1834–1895), producing more than a million prints by hand-colored lithography. For the original drawings, Currier & Ives employed or used the work of many celebrated artists of the day including James E. Buttersworth, Charles R. Parsons, George Inness, Thomas Nast, C.H. Moore, and Eastman Johnson. The stars of the firm were Arthur Fitzwilliam Tait, who specialized in sporting scenes; Louis Maurer, who executed genre scenes; George H. Durrie, who supplied winter scenes; and Fanny Palmer, who liked to do picturesque panoramas of the American landscape, and who was the first woman in the United States to make her living as a full-time artist. Each print was pulled by hand. Prints were hand-colored by a dozen or more women, often immigrants from Germany with an art background, who worked in assembly-line fashion, one color to a worker, and who were paid $6 for every 100 colored prints. The favored colors were clear and simple, and the drawing was bold and direct.
Currier and Ives was the most prolific and successful company of lithographers in the U.S. Its lithographs represented every phase of American life, and included the themes of hunting, fishing, whaling, city life, rural scenes, historical scenes, clipper ships, yachts, steamships, the Mississippi River, Hudson River scenes, railroads, politics, comedy, gold mining, winter scenes, commentary on life, portraits, and still lifes.
Small works sold for from five to twenty cents each and large works sold for $1 to $3 a piece. The Currier and Ives firm branched out from its central shop in New York City to sell prints via pushcart vendors, peddlers and book stores. The firm sold retail as well as wholesale, establishing outlets in cities across the country and in London. It also sold work through the mail (prepaid orders only), and internationally through a London office and agents in Europe.
Today, original Currier and Ives prints are much sought by collectors, and modern reproductions of them are popular decorations. Especially popular are the winter scenes, which are commonly used for American Christmas cards.