Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Life and Age of Woman

As I wrote in a previous post, the firm of Currier and Ives was the most prolific maker of quality lithographic prints of the 19th century and the most recognized today. Much of our mental image of American life in those days comes from their pictures. Among their series is "The Four Seasons of Life", depicting happy, middle-class people enjoying Childhood, Youth, Middle Age, and Old Age. A less idyllic viewpoint is found in the pair called "The Life and Age of Man" and its partner, "The Life and Age of Woman". The baby begins the uphill climb to adulthood, going "over the hill" to a long old age. How many people in those days actually reached the less than ripe old age of 100? After looking at this picture, I would hope I wouldn't!

One bit of information I found very interesting is that a major artist for C&I was a woman, Frances Flora Palmer. She did the Four Seasons of Life series, as well as the grim "Life and Age" pair. Her true passion was landscapes and she painted great numbers of them; beautiful scenery which was usually a backdrop for dramatic action. Palmer painted the Mississippi steamboat series, American Life Series, Civil War battles, and many favorite winter scenes: in all, over 200 pictures. I am so glad she didn't do the simpering girl portraits or those weird kittens!

While strolling through the pages of C&I prints, Dolly gets sidetracked.

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