A Line Shot -- The Recoil

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 and a woman after a hunting scene has gone awry. At left, a thin man leaps over a white wooden fence. The tails of his blue jacket are flying, the large hole in the back of his plaid pants reveal his white underclothes, and his gun powder horn is on his head. His brown hunting dog is struggling to get over the top of the fence. The man and his dog are fleeing the shooting mishap he has caused. On the yard side of the fence, a black/white bull dog --with a mouthful of plaid pants fabric -- is chasing the man. The hunter's abandoned rifle (which is still smoking) is airborne, while his hunting hat lays on the ground. At the right, beside a collapsed clothes line with clothes aloft, an open-mouthed black woman has been knocked backward into her laundry basket so that her legs and bare feet are high in the air --her shoes and stockings sent flying. In the background is a small, rustic wooden cottage with a brick chimney; two sunflowers are planted at the corner of the house besides the white fence. The title is imprinted in the bottom margin. This print is a sequel to "A Line Shot -- The Aim" (see accession number 52.632.24).

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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