"Trotting Cracks" at the Forge

Publisher Currier & Ives American

Not on view

Nathaniel Currier, and his partner James Ives, produced over 7,000 different lithographs, including almost 700 trotting horse scenes for an avid racing public who wanted inexpensive pictures of their trotting heroes. This print shows an interior of a farrier's workshop, where horses await being fitted with new horseshoes. At left, a bearded blacksmith wearing a red shirt and leather apron stands beside a flaming fireplace (flanked between two large bellows); nearby is the anvil, where the blacksmith shapes hot iron into custom-sized horseshoes. At right, two horses stand in profile -- one grey [identified in the key as Grey Eagle] behind a bay [Lady Thorn]. A farrier hammers a horseshoe into the rear hoof of Lady Thorn, while being watched by an elderly bearded man seated on a tree stump (center), a standing boy holding a fly wisk (shown from behind), and a man seated on a barrel (at right). In the background, a groom approaches with another darker bay horse [Mountain Boy]. In the right background, a man stands leaning against the side of an open entry; beyond, a Black groom rides away on horseback, while another rider approaches the farrier's shop. Rather than feature an exciting racing scene here, this print presents three magnificent horses (speedy trotters as the title suggests) in an ordinary situation where they get their "running shoes," made and carefully fitted by men who were highly skilled in their professions and knowledge of horses.

Currier, whose successful New York-based lithography firm began in 1835, produced thousands of hand-colored 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, which became known as "the printmakers to the American people," continued until 1907.

"Trotting Cracks" at the Forge, Currier & Ives (American, active New York, 1857–1907), Hand-colored lithograph

Due to rights restrictions, this image cannot be enlarged, viewed at full screen, or downloaded.

Open Access

As part of the Met's Open Access policy, you can freely copy, modify and distribute this image, even for commercial purposes.


Public domain data for this object can also be accessed using the Met's Open Access API.