1895 Kurz and Allison Portrait of Abraham Lincoln

[Abraham Lincoln]. - Main View

1895 Kurz and Allison Portrait of Abraham Lincoln


Large and stirring portrait of Lincoln.


[Abraham Lincoln].
  1895 (undated)     25.5 x 20.25 in (64.77 x 51.435 cm)


This is a large and stirring c. 1895 Louis Kurz and Alexander Allison chromolithograph portrait of Abraham Lincoln. Published thirty years after Lincoln's assassination, Kurz and Allison present the fallen American Civil War leader in a classic pose, thoughtfully staring into the distance wearing in his trademark black tuxedo.
Chromolithography, sometimes called oleography, is a color lithographic technique developed in the mid-19th century. The process involved using multiple lithographic stones, one for each color, to yield a rich composite effect. Oftentimes, the process would start with a black basecoat upon which subsequent colors were layered. Some chromolithographs used 30 or more separate lithographic stones to achieve the desired product. Chromolithograph color could also be effectively blended for even more dramatic results. The process became extremely popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when it emerged as the dominate method of color printing. The vivid color chromolithography produced made it exceptionally effective for advertising and propaganda imagery.
Publication History and Census
This portrait was created and published by Kurz and Allison c. 1895. Kurz and Allison's publishing firm was based in Chicago, making the sale of a portrait of one of Illinois' most celebrated citizens a logical choice. We note only one cataloged example, at the Library of Congress, which is dated 1875. Given that Kurz and Allison's did not begin operations until 1880, making the 1875 date unlikely. We have located only two other instances when this portrait has appeared on the private market in recent years.


Kurz and Allison (1880 - c. 1905) was an American publishing firm known for its chromolithographs. Founded by Louis Kurz (1835 - 1921) and Alexander Allison, the firm was based at 267-269 Wabash Avenue in Chicago. In the partnership, it is known that Kurz, an Austrian immigrant, was the lithographer and it is presumed that Allison provided the financial backing. The firm is most well-known for its series of thirty-six battle scenes from the American Civil War. At the time of their publication, the late 1880s and early 1890s, a general nostalgia was prevalent among Civil War veterans (of which Kurz was one), and evidently the company was trying to capitalize on the sentiment. Kurz and Allison's Civil War prints were not the first such prints to be issued, but they were by far the most popular. In a style reminiscent of Currier and Ives, Kurz and Allison lithographs are not meant to be historical representations, and even, from time to time, included historical inaccuracies. Even so, 'prints depicting the Civil War battles by Kurz and Allison are among the most sought-after collectibles of Civil War enthusiasts.' Their prints are also notable for featuring African-American soldiers, a rarity for the era. After the outbreak of the Spanish-American War, the firm published views from famous battles and continued doing so for the campaigns of the Philippine-American War and the Russo-Japanese War. Learn More...


Good. Upper right corner reinstated in manuscript.


Library of Congress, The Alfred Whital Stern Collection of Lincolniana, Portfolio 12, no. 13.