In Memory Of [Memorial Monument in St. Paul's Churchyard, New York]

Lithographed and published by Nathaniel Currier American

Not on view

Memorial prints, usually featuring a funerary urn on a plinth flanked by willow trees, with one or more mourners nearby, were popular from the 1820s to about 1850. Nathaniel Currier was among the lithography printers who offered his customers a variety of memorial prints. Several of these had blank plinths, so that the print could later be personalized by the purchaser, who could add the deceased's name.

In this print, a man, woman and child stand (at right) in a churchyard; they admire a white memorial monument topped by an egg-shaped urn (at left) honoring the memory of the American patriot Paul Revere. A gray brick church is in the right background; green-leaved willow trees are at right and left. The girl --dressed in a dark gray dress with a white ruffled neckline and sleeves, white panteloons, and a white wide-brimmed hat--holds two red flowers. The woman wears a white-collared dark gray dress (spotted with black dots), and a white bonnet adorned with a black ribbon. The man (shown from behind) is dressed in a dark suit with a long-tailed jacket. A red rose bush appears at the far left (behind the tomb), and another rose bush grows among the tombstones at center. Currier derived inspiration for the tomb design and St. Paul's churchyard setting from the 1821 aquatint, "View of Cooke's Tomb in St. Paul's Churchyard, New York" by John Rubens Smith (see Metropolitan Museum of Art accession no. 54.90.741).

Nathaniel Currier, whose successful New York-based lithography firm began in 1835, produced thousands of prints in various sizes that together create a vivid panorama of mid-to-late nineteenth century American life and its history. People eagerly acquired such lithographs featuring picturesque scenery, rural and city views, ships, railroads, portraits, hunting and fishing scenes, domestic life and numerous other subjects, as an inexpensive way to decorate their homes or business establishments. As the firm expanded, Nathaniel included his younger brother Charles in the business. In 1857, James Merritt Ives (the firm's accountant since 1852 and Charles's brother-in-law) was made a business partner; subsequently renamed Currier & Ives, the firm continued until 1907.

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