Currier & Ives
Original Painting by A. F. Tait
Life on the Prairie. The “Buffalo Hunt”.
Hand Colored Lithograph
Framed: 44 x 38 inches ; Paper: 29 ½ x 23 ½ inches
New York, 1862
The highly regarded lithographs by the publishing firm of Currier & Ives owe their popularity to the fact that they documented the American experience both its common values and achievements. Nathaniel Currier began his lithographic career as an apprentice in 1828. By the mid-1830's he had established his own firm on Spruce Street in New York City. In 1857 James Ives became a partner in the flourishing business. Their names became synonymous with an idealistic vision of 19th-century American promise and optimism. And, the firm enjoyed broad productivity as they were able to draw imagery from original works by many of the finest American genre painters of the times, including (among many others) Fanny Palmer, Louis Maurer, Arthur Fitzwilliam Tait and George Durrie.
Life on the Prairie - Buffalo Hunt, was lithographed after a painting by A.F. Tait, 1861. While Tait had not journeyed West, his work is dramatic and realistic and because of its detail is considered graphically reliable. Advertising for this print best describes it in saying:
"Another exciting episode of prairie life. In the foreground, an old buffalo bull, driven to desperation, is charging at full gallop on the hunter, who, without slackening the speed of his horse, maneuvers to avoid the horns of the infuriated animal; another mounted hunter in the background, is discharging his rifle at the buffalo. Others of the herd are seen lying wounded on the ground, or galloping off in the distance."
In 1932 a group of twelve prominent collectors gathered in New York City to judge what they considered would represent the best large folios produced by Currier. One of the participants in this project was Charles Messer Stow, antiques editor of the New York Sun. Charles, sensing a story, decided to cover this selection of Best 50 Large Folio Currier & Ives prints. The New York Sun published the selection process and one selected large folio print per day for 50 consecutive days. This attention sparked a renewed interest in Currier & Ives prints. Life on the Prairie -The Buffalo Hunt was number six (6) on the Best 50 list. Auction records of the 1920's and 1930's demonstrate that even in the worst years of the great depression large sums of money were being spent on these prints and they still enjoy wide interest today. This is a vibrant and notable work by a uniquely American publishing firm, and perhaps the most spectacular image of the thousands that Currier & Ives produced.
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