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Portrait, English, Tennyson, Kurz & Allison, Antique Print, Chicago, Late 19th C.


Kurz & Allison, Chicago: c. 1880-1899
Lithograph, uncolored
28.25 x 22 inches, overall

Large portrait lithograph of the poet Alfred Tennyson (1809-1892), showing him in his middle years, along with a facsimile of his signature. It appears to be based on a steel engraving of Lord Tennyson published in 1873 as part of two-volume Portrait Gallery of Eminent Men and Women with Biographies. The original engraving shows the poet seated, holding a book, but was cropped by Kurz & Allison to the head and shoulders, reinterpreted in smooth gradations reminiscent of neoclassical portraiture, and considerably enlarged in their lithograph — the book version is only about 5 by 7 inches.

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Alfred Tennyson was among the most prominent British poets of the 19th century, author of such popular works as The Charge of the Light Brigade, The Lady of Shalott and Idylls of the King. Educated at Trinity College, Cambridge, Tennyson was Britain’s longest-serving Poet Laureate, from 1850 until his death in 1892. Queen Victoria awarded him a barony in 1883, giving him the title of 1st Baron Tennyson. Tennyson is the ninth-most quoted writer in The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations. Among his best-known phrases: “Tis better to have loved and lost, Than never to have loved at all,” and “Theirs not to reason why, Theirs but to do and die.”

Kurz & Allison was a Chicago lithography firm. Louis Kurz (1833-1921) was born in Austria and emigrated with his family to the United States in 1848; they moved to Chicago in 1852. Kurz began his artistic career as a scene painter and lithographer in Milwaukee during the 1850s. He served in the Union Army during the early years of the Civil War, then returned to Chicago in 1863 and founded the Chicago Lithographic Company. Kurz’s notable early publications include a series of views for Jevne and Almini’s Chicago Illustrated (1866). Said to be a friend of Abraham Lincoln, he also published a popular lithograph in 1865 of Mr. Lincoln, Residence, and Horse that scholar Harry T. Peters called “one of the best Lincoln lithographs from any house.” He was among the founders of the Art Institute of Chicago.

When his firm was destroyed in the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, Kurz returned to Milwaukee to run the American Oleograph Company until 1878. Back in Chicago, he co-founded Kurz & Allison, which he operated with Alexander Allison from 1880 to at least 1899. As Kurz & Allison, they produced chromolithographs including a large series of Civil War battle scenes. Among the more popular prints produced by the firm were one of the Battle of Gettysburg, a series of portraits of presidents with their families, and dramatic renditions of contemporary events such as the Johnstown Flood of 1889 and the Spanish-American War.

Condition: Generally very good, recently professionally cleaned and deacidified, with light remaining overall toning, wear, handling, pale small stray marks. Few soft creases, minor marginal chips and repairs restored as backed on Japanese tissue.


“Alfred, Lord Tennyson.” Wikipedia. 22 June 2011.,_Lord_Tennyson (24 June 2011).

“Alfred Tennyson, 1st Baron Tennyson.” National Portrait Gallery, London. 2011. (24 June 2011).

Duyckinck, Evert Augustus. Portrait Gallery of Eminent Men and Women of Europe and America. Vol. 2. New York: Johnson, Wilson & Co., 1873. p. 536. Online at Google Books: (24 June 2011).

Groce, George C. and Wallace, David H. The New-York Historical Society’s Dictionary of Artists in America 1564-1860. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1969. pp. 378-379.

“Kurz and Allison.” Wikipedia. 23 December 2010. (24 June 2011).

Peters, Harry T. America on Stone. U.S.: Doubleday, Doran, 1931. pp. 259-260.

Additional information


19th Century