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Arkansas Traveller: The Turn of the Tune


Currier and Ives (US, 1834 - 1907)

In 1857 the business partnership of Nathaniel Currier and James Merritt Ives, located in the heart of "newspaper row" in New York City, initiated a printing legacy. Their inexpensive color lithographs depicted all aspects of 19th century America, from newsworthy events to leisure activities. Over a period of nearly seventy years, the firm sold over ten million prints of more than seven thousand titles.

These two prints were inspired by the popular melody, The Arkansas Traveller that appeared around 1858-1863, relating a suspect encounter between a backwoods Arkansas fiddler and a sophisticated city-gentleman. They portray the "before-and-after" of the backwoodsman's distrust of the stranger until he proves himself by expertly playing the fiddle. Just as with the prints, the fireplace surround, made of individually molded tiles from the Moravian Pottery and Tile Works, illustrates scenes from The Arkansas Traveller and documents Henry C. Mercer's use of songs and legends for subject matter.

Place object was created: New York, NY

lithograph, watercolor, wove paper

Measurements:    sheet height: 10 inches    sheet width: 13.75 inches    image height: 10 inches    image width: 13.75 inches

Museum Purchase: Funds provided by Ron and Evelyn Oman in memory of Anne Marie Kresich 2002.105.2

Currently on view at Mint Museum UPTOWN