A Nightmare in the Sleeping Car: "Oh, I Was S-o-o Dry!" Chorus, -- "Dry Up and Bust."

Thomas B. Worth American
Publisher Currier & Ives American

Not on view

In this humorous scene inside a railroad sleeping car in the middle of the night, a woman (left) lies in the bottom bunk and extends her hand holding an empty water glass toward the Black (African American) porter standing in the central aisle. She remarks "Oh, I was s-o-o- dry!" In so doing, she has awakened the other passengers (five men and two women), who poke their heads through the pink-tinted curtains. Annoyed, they are the "chorus" who say "Dry up and bust" as they glare at the woman who disturbed their sleep. Apart from the thirsty woman, porter, and the head of a bearded man closest to them who are all lit up by the lantern held in the left hand of the porter (the car's main ceiling light being "off"), the sleeping car interior is presented as dimly lit and in a shadowy gray tones with touches of subdued colors, apart from the porter's blue-green uniform and cap. At lower left, beneath the woman's berth, there is a hat box, a pair of women's shoes, and a closed umbrella (or parasol). A pitcher stands on the floor to the right of the porter's feet. The title and the captions are imprinted in the bottom margin.

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, including political cartoons, 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. Thomas Worth, among America’s prolific nineteenth-century illustrators, excelled at drawing horses, as well as other types of subjects, many of which were made into lithographs published by Currier & Ives.

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