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The History List

Currier & Ives hand-colored original print, "The Fall of Richmond, Virginia, on the Night of April 2nd, 1865," in an antique frame

Updated February 8 at 9:15 pm Eastern: This is now sold. 

Price: $1,195.00

A hand-colored print from 1865 from one of our nation's premiere print makers depicts a pivotal moment in the Civil War. 

This print was originally done in two sizes. This is the smaller of the two. Both prints are in the collection of The Met, where the larger one is on display.

When I saw this original, hand-colored print I was struck by the dramatic historic scene, the colors, the composition, and the antique frame. This print is in very good condition and the paper is bright white and the colors vibrant after an investment of $300 in conservation over a period of weeks by paper conservator with more than 50 years of experience.

In addition to investing in conservation, the mat and the backer were replaced with acid-free materials and the glass was replaced with the museum-grade non-glare, UV-protecting acrylic that we use in all our archival and fine art prints.

There are two repairs that have been made to the print, a small tear at the top and one at the bottom, neither of which extends into the image area. Some scratches to the frame have been touched up.

The result is an eye-catching image for anyone who is interested in the Civil War or simply our nation's history and wants to own an original Currier & Ives print.

— Lee Wright | Founder

Print size: 11" x 14" 

Size of frame: 18" x 22½"

Shipping: $20.

Important note on the care of this framed print: Use a microfiber cloth or similar to remove dust and fingerprints. Do not use household cleaners on the frame or on the acrylic.


Historical background on the event shown and on Currier & Ives

The fall of Richmond on April 2, 1865

"The Confederacy’s capital of Richmond was a chief distribution center for weapons, supplies, and troops, and the city resisted repeated Union assaults before officially capitulating on April 3, 1865. Once Union General Ulysses S. Grant had taken nearby Petersburg, Jefferson Davis, the Confederate President, and his Cabinet evacuated Richmond by rail, instructing Confederate soldiers to set fire to warehouses and bridges as they left. The flames spread unchecked and devastated the city before being extinguished by Northern troops after the city surrendered.

"Currier & Ives’s lithograph shows CSA soldiers and Richmond residents crossing the Mayo Bridge over the James River on the night of April 2nd, 1865, as storehouses burn and munitions explode in the background. The columned portico of the Confederate Capitol (at right) is illuminated by the flames, and reflections on the river emphasize the fires’ visual impact. President Abraham Lincoln and his son Tad visited the smoldering city on April 4th.

"Several days later, after General Robert E. Lee surrendered to Grant at Appomattox, Lincoln was assassinated by a Confederate sympathizer in Washington, D.C. The catastrophic scene here anticipates that dire chain of events."

About the firm of Currier & Ives

"The publishing firm of Currier & Ives created the most popular and highly regarded lithographs of quintessentially American scenes ever produced. The quality, vast scope and engagingly populist style of their works have made their names synonymous with an idealistic vision of nineteenth-century American promise and optimism. Currier & Ives's broad productivity was accompanied by consistently high standards of printing and hand-coloring, and their ability to draw on original works by many of the finest American genre painters of the times, including (among many others) Fanny Palmer, Louis Maurer, Arthur Fitzwilliam Tait and George Durrie. 

"When Currier & Ives emerged onto the popular scene, the public's appetite had been whetted by what amounted to a media boom that took place in the United States during the 1840s and 1850s. The introduction of photography, more rapid methods of picture printing (including lithography), and the rise of illustrated journalism exploited, among the urban bourgeoisie of the period, a strong interest in topical information, fine art, and plain amusement. Currier & Ives produced an unprecedented inventory of titles for this audience, a move that dramatically lifted the firm above its competition, and elevated their imagery to iconic status.

"Currier & Ives was founded in New York in 1835 by Nathaniel T. Currier (1813-1888), who had been apprenticed as a youth to the Boston lithographic firm of William S. & John Pendleton. In 1857, James Merritt Ives (1824-1895), the company's bookkeeper and Currier's brother-in-law, was made a partner. Generally, Currier supervised production while Ives handled the business and financial side. Currier & Ives prints were decorative and inexpensive, ranging in price from 20c to $3. Their subject matter ranged from rural life, ships, trains, animal and sporting scenes to religious images and spectacular news events. The firm produced more than 7000 titles and became the largest and most successful American lithographic publishing company of the nineteenth century. In the intervening years, neglect and disregard has led to vastly diminished numbers of their surviving works. Prints that once existed in thousands of examples are suddenly rare collectors' items, a situation that has only become more pronounced over time, to the extent that several of the most desirable Currier & Ives lithographs exist in just a handful of examples."

 Sources: Met Museum (historic event) , Arader Galleries (Currier & Ives)

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