A Line Shot -- The Aim

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 depicts a caricatured Black (African American) man with his rifle and hunting dog (at left), as well as a Black woman hanging laundry on a clothesline (at right) in the yard of a small, rustic wooden cottage with a brick chimney (left background). The thin hunter aims his rifle at three birds perched between clothing items (a white shirt, stockings, and bloomers) pinned up to dry on the clothesline. The hunter's skinny dog squeezes awkwardly between his legs.The hunter --who wears a brown hunting hat, a blue jacket and plaid pants--seems unaware of the Black woman who is bending over her large laundry basket beneath the clothesline. A white/black bulldog sits scratching beside the woman.Two birds fly above the clothesline. The title is imprinted in the bottom margin. This print is a companion to "A Line Shot -- The Recoil" (see accession number 52.632.25).

Nathaniel Currier (1813–1888), 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 (1824–1895), the firm's accountant since 1852 and Charles's brother-in-law, was made a business partner. Subsequently renamed Currier & Ives, the firm continued via their successors 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; he also drew many of the Darktown images.

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