In Memory Of [Memorial Monument, 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 beside a willow tree, 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 (as this one does), so that the print could later be personalized by the purchaser, who could add the deceased's name.

In the churchyard setting of this print, a man, woman and child (at right)-- all dressed in black mourning clothes-- look at a white memorial monument topped by an urn. The boy --dressed in a white-collared, belted black tunic coat over white pants, and a hat --points his left hand towards at the plinth, which is blank after the inscription "IN/MEMORY OF." The woman, who wears a black hat and long black coat, holds the boy's right hand and faces the viewr. The young man (shown from behind at far right) holds his top hat in his left hand as he turns his head to gaze at the monument; his has dark hair and a dark beard along his jaw line. The gray brick church of St. Paul's is in the right background; a large willow tree (with green foliage) is in left background. A small rose bush with three pink roses is at the lower right. 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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