Tuesday Talk – “Picturing America: The Prints and Legacy of Currier & Ives”

September 8, 2020 @ 4:00 pm
$20 at Ventfort, $20 plus ticket fee for Zoom

Click below for a preview.


Maggie North, who is the Acting Curator of Art at the Springfield Art Museums, Springfield, MA, will give a visual presentation at the mansion as part of its Summer 2020 series of Tuesday Talks.

As America’s longest running printmaking establishment, the Currier & Ives lithography firm produced popular prints that adorned homes and businesses across the country during the 19th century.

The firm was founded in 1835 when Nathaniel Currier, then just twenty-two years old, became the sole proprietor of a New York City business that produced music manuscripts and images of newsworthy events such as a fire that swept New York’s business district. Thousands of prints were sold in four days.  In 1840, he produced “Awful Conflagration of the Steam Boat Lexington,” which was so successful that he was given a weekly insert in the New York Sun. This was before the advent of newspaper photography.

 In 1852, Currier hired James Merritt Ives who would later become his business partner. It was Ives who suggested that the firm add scenes of daily life and American pastimes to their repertoire. These sentimental images, depicting country homesteads and leisure activities such as fishing, horseracing, and ice skating, are still among the most collectable Currier & Ives prints.

During their over 70 years in business, Currier & Ives employed a large staff who assisted in the creation and printing of approximately 8,000 distinct designs. Before closing their doors in 1907, the firm had made a lasting impression on American visual culture.

Today, Currier & Ives images still appear on calendars, cookie tins, and holiday cards, striking a nostalgic chord. Smith’s talk will explore the firm’s history, legacy, enduring lithographic prints. Marketed as “Publishers of Cheap and Popular Prints,” Currier & Ives lithographs were never intended to be perceived as fine artworks. However, numerous examples are now preserved in major museums because they provide an important record of American printmaking, history, and popular taste.

Maggie North has worked extensively with the museums’ holdings of works on paper, which includes one of the largest public collections of Currier & Ives prints in the world.

Tickets for the North lecture either at Ventfort Hall or via Zoom are $20 per person. To view her on Zoom register at https://ventfort09082020.eventbrite.com

Reservations for attending the presentation at Ventfort Hall are strongly recommended as seating will be strictly limited. For reservations to attend at the mansion call us at 413-637-3206.  The museum’s traditional Victorian Teas cannot be served until further notice due to the coronavirus.

The Summer 2020 series of Tuesday Talks are sponsored by Ventfort Hall board member Lucille Landa and William Landa.