More Plucky than Prudent

Publisher Currier & Ives American

Not on view

In this rural scene, a bull (in the foreground with its hind legs high in the air) bounds along a railroad track as a train approaches (from upper left to center of image). Across an eroded ravine n the right background, a man jumps and waves a stick and a hat in his upraised hands to try to divert the bull. Behind him is a white picket fence bordering the yard of a farmhouse. At lower left, there are a few boulders.

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.

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