Nottingham, England: Stafford & Co., [n.d., but ca. 1880s]. Large color woodblock poster, approximately 27 x 37 inches. Clean and bright. Overall condition is excellent. Archivally matted, protected with mylar sheet. Item #WRCAM30065
A very attractive print, appropriating a famed image of westward expansion as a metaphor for inexporable American progress. The print is based on an 1872 painting by John Gast, called "American Progress." Gast created the painting at the commission of the western travel guide publisher, George Crofutt, who produced a chromolithographic print of Gast's painting for subscribers to his guidebooks. This poster was likely created from Crofutt's print. The lower two- thirds of the poster consists of the allegorical scene, dominated by a lady liberty figure soaring above an expansive western landscape. Wearing flowing robes and with the star of American empire in her hair, she flies westward, holding a schoolbook in her right hand and stringing a telegraph wire with her left. A glowing sun rises in the east above a city along a river, and the snow- capped Rocky Mountains are seen in the background. Along the Plains below her we are shown wagon trains moving westward (leaving cities behind but bringing civilization with them), railroad lines, buffalo herds, retreating Indians, prospectors, hunters, a farmer with a plow, and western animals. The reason for the creation of this print is somewhat mysterious. It is undated, and was printed in Nottingham, England, publicizing an enterprise called "Chase & Bachelder's American Museum of Art", which may not have actually existed. OCLC locates only a single copy of this print, at the Autry Museum. There is also a copy at the Hood Museum of Art at Dartmouth. Scarce. OCLC 77662600. Patricia Hills, "Picturing Progress in the Era of Westward Expansion," in William H. Truettner (editor), THE WEST AS AMERICA: REINTERPRETING IMAGES OF THE FRONTIER, 1820- 1920, pp.134-36 & 354. Brian W. Dippie, "The Moving Finger Writes: Western Art and the Dynamics of Change," in Jules David Prown (et al.), DISCOVERED LANDS INVENTED PASTS: TRANSFORMING VISIONS OF THE AMERICAN WEST, pp.96-97.