Winter in the country

Apparently even Currier and Ives knew better than to mention Christmas in the same breath as winter. Yet there is no doubt the consuming public recognized the spirited flavour of the company’s lithographs. To this day popular commercial outlets like Sirius XM have a channel devoted solely to the “Holiday Season“. Not unexpectedly it is replete with historic and so-called “classic” Christmas music surrounding the Christian feast. The insinuation is however far less abrasive than might have once been sustained when people actually harboured mystical additives. Now the spiritual lyrics are viewed as apocryphal or suggestive only, perhaps pagan at their roots, but by many certainly not revitalized by any degree of legitimacy or authenticity.

Currier and Ives was a successful American printmaking firm based in New York City from 1835 to 1907 headed first by Nathaniel Currier, and later jointly with his partner James Merritt Ives. The prolific firm produced prints from paintings by fine artists as black and white lithographs that were hand colored. Lithographic prints could be reproduced quickly and purchased inexpensively, and the firm called itself “the Grand Central Depot for Cheap and Popular Prints” and advertised its lithographs as “colored engravings for the people”. The firm adopted the name “Currier and Ives” in 1857.

Currier and Ives was the most prolific and successful company of lithographers in the U.S. Its lithographs represented every phase of American life, and included the themes of hunting, fishing, whaling, city life, rural scenes, historical scenes, clipper ships, yachts, steamships, the Mississippi River, Hudson River scenes, railroads, politics, comedy, gold mining, winter scenes, commentary on life, portraits, and still lifes.

By my perception – which is admittedly insular and no doubt jaundiced – the imposition of religious principles on others is now undertaken but cautiously (if at all). Certainly there are enclaves wherein the anointed engage a more ambitious entreaty. I respect their blooming attraction to pageantry and theatre. For the balance of the uncultured, unprincipled and rogue middle class the passage from Halloween simply marks the transition to a holiday celebration. I have the advantage in these matters of conscience to have partnered with one who shares my arrogance regarding the salvation of the soul. We may respond differently to the dreadful terror of death in more austere circumstances; for the moment however we’re in the blissful purgatory called life.