Mixed at the Finish

Thomas B. Worth American
Publisher Currier & Ives American

Not on view

Thomas Worth, among America’s prolific nineteenth-century illustrators, excelled at drawing horses and comic subjects, many of which were made into lithographs published by Currier & Ives. In this scene at a three-stall stable in the pouring rain, two wagons have crashed into a stable (right side of image), after their drivers rushed to occupy the only available stall. The two carriages are upended with their wheels detached. Two horses are in the stall (a rearing white horse at left, the rump of a brown horse visible at right). One driver (wrapped in a striped blanket) "flies" near the stable roof, above the destroyed vehicles. The other driver is also airborne (far right) falling seat first onto two horror-struck, open-mouthed caricatured Black (African American) grooms, who have been knocked into the air by the impact. At left, there is a commotion in the other two stalls: a brown horse (still hitched to its harness cart) rears up in the back of the far left stall; in the central stall, the horse kicks up its hind legs above its harness cart.

This print is the sequel companion to "Lapped on the Last Quarter" (Gale 3713, Peters 394; Metropolitan Museum of Art accession no. 52.632.295). This lithograph depicts the two white drivers racing their four-wheeled wagons -- each drawn by a single horse (one white, one brown)-- as they headed for cover from the rain. Each hoped to arrive first at the only available stall. Standing by, two Black (African American) grooms gestured towards the empty stall.

Nathaniel Currier (1813–1888), who established a successful New York-based lithography firm in 1835, produced thousands of hand-colored prints in various sizes that together create a vivid panorama of mid-to-late nineteenth century America. In 1857, James Merritt Ives (1824–1895), the accounting-savvy brother-in-law of Nathaniel's brother Charles, was made a business partner. People eagerly acquired Currier & Ives lithographs, such as those featuring spectacular American landscapes, rural and city views, hunting and fishing scenes, domestic life and numerous other subjects, as an inexpensive way to decorate their homes or business establishments.

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