Midnight Race on the Mississippi

Midnight Race on the Mississippi

Currier & Ives
Midnight Race on the Mississippi
1875
chromolithograph
Preston Player Collection, Knox College

Chromolithography (colored printing) brought art to the masses in the mid-to-late 19th century, and Currier & Ives were the preeminent print publishers during that time. Distributing prints to a wide audience, their images helped to promote a romanticized mythology of American exceptionalism and national identity. During a period of rapid social and economic change, the steamboat was a popular symbol that reassured Americans of their commercial and industrial power through the history of Westward expansion. Steamboat races fit within Currier & Ives’ democratization of art, as they were popular events followed nationally for their excitement and danger. This print would have been produced soon after the race and distributed to collectors, serving aesthetic and commemorative functions. Currier & Ives prints were exceptionally popular among members of the rising middle class, who were part of a new consumer society eager to display their status by decorating their homes, bars and general stores.

Jarrod Showalter

Views of the Mississippi
Midnight Race on the Mississippi