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Through the Bayou by Torchlight
Steamboats on the Mississippi River
The great width and breadth of the Mississippi River has long been a subject of fascination for Americans. Currier & Ives, always responsive to the public’s interests, issued more than thirty prints of life and activity on the river. Bucolic scenes, images of steam and flatboats and thrilling boat races were among the most popular, and most reproduced, of Currier & Ives images. Through the Bayou by Torchlight is especially dramatic. The night scene was produced by showing a gradation in tone from white to gray to black and the bright colors of the flames from the torchlight help to illuminate the beautiful southern environment.
The four small folios displayed on this wall are authentic prints produced during the 19th century. The larger print, The Champions of the Mississippi, displayed in a historically-accurate period frame, is a high-quality reproduction. Though the image is the same size as a large authentic print, the paper is the wrong texture, the colors are too bright and the picture appears flat. The work looks hand-colored, but under magnification the design reveals tiny dots of color, called pixilation, which indicates that it was not produced through a lithographic process.
Gift of Lenore B. and Sidney A. Alpert supplemented with Museum Acquisition Funds
Great Mississippi Steam Boat Race, 1870, 2004.D03.068
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