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Pair of 1882 yacht race prints after the renowned American painter Charles Parsons, who created some of Currier & Ives’ best yachting images, and indeed was one of six artists who played a major role in creating the firm’s classic look. Sloop Yachts Mischief and Atalanta (Gale 5956; Conningham 5562) depicts an 1881 America’s Cup race in which American yachts were challenged by a Canadian squadron for the second time. Mischief, of the New York Yacht Club, easily defeated the Canadian boat Atalanta in the waters off New York. A “Crack” Sloop... (Gale 1404; Conningham, 1281) shows the yacht Gracie, racing for New York Yacht Club, whose insignia is shown on the print in the title. Other yachts sail in the distance. Gracie was among the yachts that competed in preliminary races to represent the U.S. in the 1881 America’s Cup race, and won one trial. The honor of defending the Cup fell to Mischief because it won the other two trials.
Charles Parsons was a British-born artist who emigrated to America, where he painted in oil and watercolor as well as working in lithography. He was elected an Associate Member of the National Academy of Design and of the New York Water Color Society. Parsons is perhaps best known for his role in helping to create the classic look of Currier & Ives’ popular lithographs, along with the artists Louis Maurer, Arthur Fitzwilliam Tait, Fanny Palmer, Thomas Worth and George Henry Durrie (Bonfante-Warren).
Currier & Ives was founded in 1834 by Nathaniel Currier and based in New York. They were extremely prolific and highly successful, producing almost 7,500 different separately issued art prints during the 19th century, and became known as the "Printmakers to the American People." Dozens of American artists in the mid 19th century painted primarily for lithographic reproduction by Currier & Ives and other firms. To please a broad audience, the firm presented a warmly positive vision of America, frequently sentimental, and sometimes with a touch of humor. Currier & Ives prints generally portrayed the American landscape, scenery and landmarks, including the westward expansion, as well as daily life in both urban and rural settings. Their sporting and maritime subjects were particularly popular. These prints are now highly collectible as records of American history and for their decorative appeal.
Full publication information on A “Crack” Sloop: Currier & Ives, 115 Nassau Street, New York.
Bonfante-Warren, Alexandra. Currier & Ives: Portraits of a Nation. New York: Metro Books, 1998. p. 40.
Conningham, Frederic A. Currier and Ives Prints: An Illustrated Check List. New York: Crown, 1949. pp. 65, 240.
Fielding, Mantle. Dictionary of American Painters, Sculptors and Engravers. Green Farms, Connecticut: Modern Books and Crafts, 1926, rev. ed. 1974. p. 271.
Gale Research Company. Currier and Ives: A Catalogue Raisonné. A Comprehensive Catalogue of the Lithographs of Nathaniel Currier, James Merritt Ives and Charles Currier, including Ephemera Associated with the Firm, 1834-1907. Detroit: Gale Research Company, 1984.