Michele & Donald D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts, Alpert Gallery of Currier & Ives, First Floor
During their seven decades in business, Currier & Ives produced nearly 9,000 print designs that were distributed nationally through a successful marketing network. The lithography firm printed pictures at an affordable price that reflected public interests of the time. The images covered all aspects of society, including politics and commerce.
Currier & Ives glorified the founding fathers and American heroes and the prints constituted one of the largest segments of the firm's business. The most frequently depicted subjects were George Washington and Abraham Lincoln; however, group portraits were also popular and widely collected.
Included in the exhibit is an image of George Washington’s inauguration. In another print, an African-American man kisses the hand of President Abraham Lincoln who is standing on broken shackles, symbolic of breaking the chains of slavery. Still another image is an 1845 group portrait of all eleven presidents up to that date.
In the political arena, Currier & Ives did not play favorites, often printing promotional material for both parties, and covering all points of view on social issues. Hail to the Chief highlights imagery that helped to create a visual lexicon for the young American nation and reinforced sentiments of patriotism and democratic ideals.