Nathaniel Currier

"The Battle of New Orleans 1815" Hand Colored Historical Battle Lithograph 19th Century





This hand colored lithograph by Nathaniel Currier depicts an officer, likely Andrew Jackson, on a white horse in the center of a chaotic battlefield at the Battle of New Orleans. Among the dead and fighting soldiers in the background and foreground, a soldier can be seen hoisting the American flag with pride as they clash with the British. The title and publication information can be found along the bottom edge of the print.

Artist Biography

Nathaniel Currier was born on March 27, 1813 in Roxbury, Massachusetts. The firm of Currier and Ives (1862-1901) issued lithographic portraits, views and pictorial records of sporting events and other happenings. In the 1850s-1860s, work on lithographic stone crowded out the wood block. Currier productions were often crudely executed but some beautiful prints did come from his presses. His shooting, fishing and racing prints furnish us with pictoral idea of American sports of the period. Nathaniel Currier was tall, blond and courtly and often posed for his own artists. He was better at business than art. James Ives was the brother-in-law of Nat Currier's brother. He was born in New York City on the grounds of Bellevue Hospital. Every morning at 7 a crowd of peddlers used to enter the little shop of Currier and Ives. From huge bins they selected whatever pictures they hoped would capture their customers. They left a cash deposit. Then they piled their prints into pushcards and rolled across the town, hawking the latest deathbed scenes, shipwrecks or lush country landscapes. At evening they returned their unsold stock to the shop, reclaimed their deposits and squared up accounts. By such elementary methods as this, the firm of Currier & Ives led the popular picture business from 1840 to 1890. They helped America get acquainted with itself. Their lithographs of doe-eyed New England damsels were tacked to Mississippi flatboats. Their dashing pioneers, framed in walnut, enlivened the parlors of New England stay-at-homes. And through a London office they introduced Americans to curious Europeans. Wholesale, Currer & Ives prints were 6 cents apiece. Retail, they went for 15 cents to 25 cents, or up to $3 for an elegant folio. But even in the firm's heyday, when it cataloged more than 4,317 prints, business was widely adapted to its pushcart customers. And for everybody, including the Prince of Wales who browsed delightedly through the New York store in 1860, terms were strictly cash. Nathaniel Currier from Roxbury, Massachusetts began his apprenticeship in a Boston lithographer's shop. At 22 he opened his own New York store at No. 1 Wall Street. During his second year of business in 1835 the nearby Merchants' Exchange burned down. It was a beautiful blaze. Four days later Currier released the first colored lithograph of the disaster with lurid flames and heroic firemen. When it was sold as an extra with the New York Sun, the whole town marveled at Currier's speedy presses. Five years later a steamboat caught fire on Long Island Sound. This time Nat Currier worked still faster, issued his famous lithograph, The Awful Conflagration of the Steam Boat Lexington in three days. People heard about it all over the country and Currier's fame was assured. Thereafter Currier covered every major disaster, and, to please a nation of fire worshipers, released a new print every time a hencoop burned down. In 1852 plump, jovial James Ives was hired, made himself so valuable as a bookkeeper and an artist that he soon became a partner. The Four Seasons of Life show Ives' handiwork. Most Currier & Ives prints were first submitted in the form of sketches or oil paintings. Artists received about $10 a picture and there were no royalties. Connected with the firm was a staff of specialists. George Durrie excelled at painting snow, rocks, lichens. Charles Parsons was a marine expert. Thomas Worth did Negro comics. Arthur Tait did hunting scenes. Louis Maurer was wonderful at horses. Fanny Palmer was so good at sketching farmyards that she was often rushed to Long Island in Nat Currier's buggy for a quick order of rural charm. Several artists often worked on one picture, each contributing his particular speciality. Pictures were then copied onto stone plates by expert lithographers. When the black-and-white prints came off the presses, they were sent to the fifth floor of the Spruce Street factory. Here, seated at long tables, artists with paint pots each applied one color. At the end of the line, prints emerged completely painted, but with noticeable variations. With the death of Nathaniel Currier on November 20, 1888, the great firm of Currier and Ives slumped. Improved color printing and photography hurried its final collapse in 1907. But the Currier & Ives tradition of popular reporting endured. It was the beginning in America of pictorial journalism.

Dimensions With Frame

H 15 in. x W 19 in. x D 0.5 in.

Dimensions Without Frame

H 9 in. x W 13 in.
"The Battle of New Orleans 1815" Hand Colored Historical Battle Lithograph 19th Century
"The Battle of New Orleans 1815" Hand Colored Historical Battle Lithograph 19th Century