2006 Imprint Volume 31-2 Autumn

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194. Lauren B. Hewes, “‘Dedicated to the lovers of art and literature,’ The Cosmopolitan Art Association Engravings, 1856-1861.” Vol. 31, No. 2 (Autumn 2006), 2-17.

The Cosmopolitan Art Association was founded in 1854 to “encourage and popularize the Fine Arts, and disseminate wholesome literature throughout the country.” Started by the book and periodical publisher Chauncey Lyman Derby in Sandusky, Ohio, the organization moved to New York and established a presence on Broadway. Like the American Art-Union, the Cosmopolitan Art Association issued large format engravings as a benefit of membership. This article discusses the five large-format engravings published by the Association and the challenges faced during their production. The popularity of the organization, which at its peak in 1857 numbered 38,000 members, meant that the engravings were printed in large runs (often over 8,000), and were selected to appeal to broad audiences. The article is followed by an illustrated checklist of the small-format engravings that appeared in the Association’s monthly publication, The Cosmopolitan Art Journal, 1857-1861.

195.¬†James Smethurst, “Emancipation Day: Postbellum Visions of African Americans in Currier & Ives Prints,” Vol. 31, No. 2 (Autumn 2006), 18-29.

Currier & Ives lithographs depicting African Americans, especially those in the “Darktown Series,” played an important role in the political and cultural debates over the rights and the status of African Americans in the last quarter of the nineteenth century. Allegedly depicting life in an all-black town, the “Darktown” lithographs drew on minstrelsy, plantation literature, and a range of popular visuals to caricature African American men and women. These caricatures demeaned African Americans as citizens (and as people), helping to underpin the establishment of Jim Crow segregation in the 1880s and 1890s. Though the prints were primarily designed to be humorous, like the so-called “coon song,” they often carried hints of more sinister racial threats arising from black citizenship in the Reconstruction era.

196.¬†Georgia B. Barnhill, “The Pictorial Context for Nathaniel Currier Prints for the Elite and Middle Class,” Vol. 31, No. 2 (Autumn 2006), 31-42.

Nathaniel Currier’s career began in Boston in the lithographic firm of William Pendleton. This article traces the impact that his experience there might have had in terms of workshop practices and selection of imagery when he became a print publisher. Currier’s lithographs are compared to the output of other contemporary publishers including George Endicott, James Baillie, Henry R. Robinson, as well as the elegant aquatints of William Bennett and John Hill. Publications of the American Art-Union and the French publisher Goupil, Vibert and Company are likewise discussed in an attempt to set Nathaniel Currier’s publications in the context of other prints.

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