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Historical Art, New York City, The 10 Commandments of the Tavern, Bar and Gaming Scenes, Antique Print, 1875

$3,750

H. Bruel (lithograph artist)
Die Zehn Wirthschafts Gebote
[The 10 Commandments of the Tavern]

Henry Schile, New York: 1875
Chromolithograph
18.5 x 25.25 inches, image
23.5 x 30 inches, overall
$3,750

Colorful German-American genre chromolithograph of a crowded, bustling drinking tavern. The margins contain 16 additional vignette scenes relating to tavern games and activities, and alcoholic beverages. The title, in German, translates as “The 10 Commandments of Taverns.” In the large central scene a crowded drinking hall is hung with two American flags, where a bartender on the left points to two joined arched tablets (resembling traditional depictions of the biblical Ten Commandments) with ten Roman numerals hanging over the bar . The vignettes in the four corners depict wine, beer, punch, and brandy. Nine additional illustrations in the borders show games and activities taking place in taverns and beer gardens, such as billiards, dominoes, card playing, bowling and target shooting. Allegorical figures in classical and medieval dress are illustrated in the center of the upper and side border panels. All vignettes are labeled with German titles. In the lower margin are the tongue-in-cheek “Ten Commandments” for patrons of taverns that are referred to in the title, in German and English. Another example of this print is in the collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.

Product description continues below.

Description

The publisher, Henry Schile, produced many prints aimed at an audience of fellow German immigrants. Inasmuch as Schile was a New York City publisher that frequently published New York City scenes, it is quite possible that the tavern depicted was based on one or more such establishments located there. During the first half of the 19th century there a steady flow of German immigrants into Manhattan, so by 1855, it had the third largest concentration of Germans after Berlin and Vienna. By the 1870s, when this print was published, it has been estimated that German immigrants and their American offspring made up roughly 30% of the population of New York City. Most were concentrated in the Lower East Side’s “Little Germany,” which was also the German cultural capitol of the U.S. (Haberstroh).

Henry Schile was a German immigrant based in New York’s Lower Manhattan, a prolific artist and publisher of colorful lithographs, generally in large sizes.His favored print themes were genre pictures, people in landscapes and dramatic scenes from American history. Indeed, he was a contemporary of the famed genre New York publisher, Currier and Ives, producing similar subject matter, though not nearly as prolific as Currier. Among his more famous prints are two Central Park scenes (also a favored subject of Currier and Ives): Central Park New York, Preparing for a Drive, a summer scene in the park with a mother and children by the Bow Bridge, and Central Park N.Y. Winter Sports, a companion lithograph showing skaters on the Lake in the Ramble. Another Schile print shows a train “Crossing the Continent” — also reminiscent of a famous Currier print.Schile also produced both Christian- and Jewish-themed religious subjects and melodramatic spiritual allegories such as “Hope” as a woman rescued from the ocean by an angel. Schile‚Äôs prints were presumably designed to be affordable decoration for the middle class, including his fellow immigrants. Several extant examples of prints published by Schile are in the Prints and Photographs Collection of the Library of Congress, among other museum collections.

Full publication information: Published & printed by H. Schile, 36 Division St, N.Y.

Condition: Generally very good with the usual overall light toning, wear, handling, soft creases. Reinforced verso in outer margins with brown paper water-adhesive tape, appears to be stable and not affecting the front, and can be removed by professional paper conservator.

References:

“Die ZehnWirthschafts Gebote.” America on Stone, Smithsonian National Museum of American History. http://amhistory.si.edu/petersprints/lithograph.cfm?id=324725&Category=patriotism&Results_Per=10&search_all=false (17 February 2014).

Haberstroh, Richard. “Development of Kleindeutschland or Little Germany.” Lower East Side Preservation Initiative. http://www.lespi-nyc.org/history/kleindeutschland-little-germany-in-the-lower-east-side.html (18 February 2014).

Peters, Harry T. America on Stone. U.S.: Doubleday, Doran, 1931. pp. 358-359.

Additional information

Century

19th Century