The Acquisitions Table: No Rose Without a Thorn

No rose without a thorn. New York: Nathaniel Currier, [1838-1856] Shown with “My Master’s Wife”

When he started his business on Nassau Street in New York City, Nathaniel Currier offered for sale lithographs of news events, historic images, local views, and pretty women. He also occasionally produced narrative genre scenes such as this curious depiction of a young man kissing a lady’s hand through a hole in a wooden door. The unfortunate youth is about to be whipped for his freshness by an older, angry man approaching from behind.

Although AAS tends to purchase prints related to historical events or to the history of printing, this image was too good to pass up, given its visual relationship to another item already here. Our current NEH-funded project, “Prints in the Parlor,” involves cataloging images from the AAS collection of annuals and gift books. (Read an earlier blog post introducing the project here.)  In the Forget-me-Not for 1850 (New York: E. O. Jenkins, 1849), we encountered the illustration “My Master’s Wife,” engraved by William G. Jackman, who did quite a bit of work for the annuals industry from his base in New York City. The Jenkins printing works was located at 114 Nassau Street, just four blocks away from Currier’s shop at 152 Nassau Street. We will never know who was copying whom, but it is wonderful to have both images together in the collection for future scholars to debate.

Purchased from the Old Print Shop, New York. Print Acquisitions Fund.

Published by

Lauren Hewes

Andrew W. Mellon Curator of Graphic Arts, American Antiquarian Society

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