The Champion in Luck
Thomas B. Worth American
Publisher Currier & Ives American
Not on view
The late nineteenth-century Darktown prints by Currier & Ives depict racist stereotypes that are offensive and disturbing. The Metropolitan Museum of Art preserves such works to shed light on their historical context and to enable the study and evaluation of racism.
This print shows two Black (African American) men involved in a scull racing accident. After colliding and demolishing the boat of his challenger, who is submerged upside down in the water, the gleeful "champion," wearing a dotted shirt, smiles broadly as raises his left arm and kicks up his feet in victory. In the left and right backgrounds are boats filled with spectators.
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. The artist of this print is Thomas Worth, a prolific nineteenth-century illustrator who excelled at drawing horses and other subjects, many of which were made into lithographs published by Currier & Ives.