Thursday, February 11, 2010

George Henry Durrie: American winter scenes

I am writing this blog on Wednesday, as I sit in my office watching the snow come down, preparing to head out again to shovel our sidewalk for the third time this morning. We are in the midst of the second major snow storm in Philadelphia in just five days, and while it has rather made getting around difficult, it is beautiful. Philadelphia doesn't often look like a winter wonderland, but it certainly does today. In honor of what is now officially the most snowy winter on record in Philadelphia, this blog is about a man whose images appear on the most famous and popular antique winter prints made in the nineteenth century.

George Henry Durrie (June 6, 1820-Oct. 15, 1863) was the artist for ten of what are some of the most popular Currier & Ives prints. Durrie was born in Hartford, Connecticut, and both he and his brother John (1818-90) studied with engraver and portrait painter Nathaniel Jocelyn. Early in his career, Durrie painted mostly portraits in the New Haven area, but around the middle of the century he started to paint genre scenes, specializing in winter scenes. Nine of these winter scenes were turned into lithographs by the New York popular print publishers, Currier & Ives.

Durrie’s winter scenes are quintessential American images. He used soft, appealing colors and his eye for the details of American rural homes and farms of the period added an authenticity to the paintings. His fame grew and he exhibited at institutions such as the National Academy of Design. In 1861, Currier & Ives firmly established his reputation by publishing two of his winter paintings, “New England Winter Scene” and “Farmyard in Winter,” as large folio, hand-colored lithographs. They published two more in 1863, “The Farmer’s Home – Winter,” and “Winter Morning. Feeding the Chickens,” and then six more after his death that year. These include “Winter in the Country. Getting Ice,” “Winter in the Country. A Cold Morning,” “Winter in the Country. The Old Grist Mill,” “Home to Thanksgiving,” “The Old Homestead in Winter,” and the non-winter scene “Autumn in New England.”

Winter scenes are generally the most popular Currier & Ives prints. For instance the #1 print in the New Best 50 large folio Currier & Ives list (as voted by the AHPCS, cf. blog on most popular Currier & Ives prints) is “The Road – Winter,” and the first three prints in the New Best 50 small folio Currier & Ives list are winter scenes. All ten of the prints made after Durrie’s paintings are large folio and seven of them were voted into the New Best 50 list (five of these were included in the Original Best 50 list).

The popularity of Durrie’s winter paintings goes beyond the original Currier & Ives prints, for it is these images which are most often used when people want to use a “classic” Victorian scene. Durrie’s pictures appear in a multitude of instances on Christmas cards, calendars, posters, plates, wastebaskets, boxes, purses, and in every other imaginable chachka that one can imagine. It is usually a Durrie painting that comes to people’s mind when they think of an American winter in “olden times.” Looking out my window today, I smile and think of Durrie and his marvelous work.

65 comments:

  1. Thank you...I was so pleased to read your article on Durrie's winter scene....I have New England Winter Scene 1861...but it's not large.. no clouds...I had it examined once and was told to hang on to it...so I have and found your article most helpful and informative...Much appreciated

    ReplyDelete
  2. Wondering if you could help me. Inherited a print(I think) of a nocturnal winter scene featuring a church, chapel and house on a snowy dock next to a lake. There is a moon in the distance partially hidden by dark clouds. Can't find a signature anywhere. The frame is original to the print. The print is believed to have been in my husbands family for 150 years. How can I send you a photo image?

    Thanks for any help you can give.
    Sincerely,
    Katherine Tucker 865-640-4658
    katherinegtucker@hotmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  3. This sounds like a lot of prints and may be a Hoover & Sons image (you can read about their work elsewhere in this blog). You are welcome to send us an image and we'll take a look.

    Our policy on images is that we do not accept images through email, but are happy to look at photos sent through the mail or posted to the web. If you mail us photos, make sure to include your email address so we can respond.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hello,
    We have a very old Durrie print of a winter barn scene (farmer standing in the barn door with his horse). It does have GH Durrie 1862 in the lower left hand corner. It's about 9" x 12" and could be from a calendar. It's in an old glass frame. Would there be any information on the back? I'm reluctant to take it out of the frame.
    RW, Kennebunk, Maine

    ReplyDelete
  5. As described in the blog, all of Durrie's prints for Currier & Ives are large folio. Your print is much too small so it is definitely a reproduction. As these images are so popular, there are lots of different reproductions made, some for calendars and some just as prints for framing and enjoying.

    ReplyDelete
  6. i have 2 large currier and ives prints "the snow storm" and "frozen up". Are these durrie images. i have found conflicting info on line

    ReplyDelete
  7. Neither of these titles are large folio prints and neither was drawn by Durrie. The list of all the Durrie images is contained in the blog above.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Hi Chris. I live in the New Haven area and acquired a framed Durrie print, I believe to be a lithograph. The Title is not on it, it is signed GH Durrie in lower left corner. It's the Home to Thanksgiving print-measures approx 14X25. It has yellowed- can you recommend where I can take it to be evaluated?

    ReplyDelete
  9. All the original Currier & Ives prints by Durrie did have title and publication information on them, but it is possible that this was trimmed off. Remember that these prints were not always very valuable and people would often trim prints to fit into a frame or sometimes to make them look like they were paintings rather than prints.

    In any case, this is a very often reproduced image, but most of the reproductions would have the text as well, so one needs to look at the size you give, which is approximately correct. This means that your print could be an original (though trimmed).

    One of the best collections of Currier & Ives prints is at the Springfield, MA Art Museum and as that is only a few hours up the road, I would suggest taking your print there. Good luck.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Hi
    Sadly we are cleaning out the family home. In the attic was A framed Durrie print of "The Old Grist Mill". Probably well over 50-77 years old as I never remember seeing it hanging in the house and the colors are quited faded from those I see on line.

    Curious if it is a Lithograph or a print and if it can be cleaned

    Dimensions are 7.5" -9.5" while the total frame is 11.5 - 13.5"

    right corner says LITH CURRIER IVES NY
    left corner says PAINTED BY G.H.DURRIE
    signed GH Durrie 1862 right corner

    center is inscribed
    "ENTERED ACCORDING TO ACT OF CONGRESS IN 1854 ETC ETC
    WINTER IN THE cOUNTRY
    THE OLD GRIST MILL

    NY PUBLISHED BY CURRIER IVES ETC

    Thank you

    John Gillis
    john.gillis@state.ma.us

    PS I have a printed copy from a photo if you want to seeit but the writing is hardly visable

    ReplyDelete
  11. As I noted in the blog, all of the original Durrie prints for C&I are large folio. Your print is much too small for that, which means that it is a reproduction. It may be old (some reproductions were done in the early 20th century), but it is still a reproduction.

    The print probably could be cleaned (though the color once faded is gone), but it would not make financial sense to do that. The cost of the cleaning would be far more than the value of the print.

    If you like the image, there are lots of Durrie reproductions out there, so I would look for one (perhaps on ebay) that is clean already and get that.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Hello Chris,

    I was wondering what the absents of a signature on a Durrie print means? I recently found a framed copy of "Winter Morning Feeding the Chickens" at a thrift store. The frame, and paper itself appear to be very old. On the left side of the print it says, "LITH. by Currier & Ives N.Y." Then in center there is the title, and right above that it says, "entered according to act of congress 1863, by Currier & Ives in clerks office in southern district of New York." Below the title its says, "New York published by Currier & Ives 152 Nassau St Chdurrie." Finally, in the right corner of the piece it says, Painted by C.H. Durrie" but there is no signature. I am wondering if that makes it likely that I have found a reproduction. Total the piece is about 17in X 24in. Thanks for any information you can offer me.

    -Charles

    ReplyDelete
  13. There are lots of reproductions of this wonderful image by Durrie and the odds are that is what you have. The two best ways to tell if you have a reproduction are size (the image only should be 14 7/8 x 20 3/4) and that the image is not made up of colored dots.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I have a printing of Durrie, Apple Cider Making. Does it has any value.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Thanks so much for your response. When I gave you the measurements of the piece that I own I did not just measure the size of the image. Those measurements are 13 1/2 x 18. I also looked at the piece with a magnifying glass, and i am having a hard time seeing if the piece is made up of colored dots. Would this be very obvious or would i need to look with a more powerful magnifying glass?

    Thanks again,

    Charles

    ReplyDelete
  16. The size of your print is wrong, which by itself shows that it is a reproduction. A more powerful magnifier might work, but remember not all reproductions have dots. In the case of your print, however, the size alone shows it is not an original.

    ReplyDelete
  17. HELLO I HAVE A WINTER IN THE COUNTRY " GETTING ICE " REPRINTED FROM LITH BY CURRIER & IVES IN THE LOWER LEFT CORNER. WHAT IS IT WORTH ?

    ReplyDelete
  18. I have a Home To Thanksgiving that is 8.5x 12.5. I measured the colored parts and wording only. If it is not larger is it a reproduction?

    ReplyDelete
  19. All of Durrier's prints were the large folio size. Any smaller versions of his prints are reproductions. All reproductions, whether big or small, old or new, have only "decorative" value.

    ReplyDelete
  20. I have a very old print of WINTER IN THE COUNTRY A Cold Morning. I removed it from the old frame so I could measure it.The printed image measured 15 6/16 and 10 10/16. Didn't measure the worded part.Don't see where it says it is a reprint. BUT on the entire back of it is the story of it.The Eternal Christmas Card. With the number 120 in the far left bottom corner. Is this any worth, or just a page out of a book ?

    ReplyDelete
  21. Any reproduction of a C&I print, by Durrie or anyone else, has only "decorative" value. That is, what someone will pay for something that looks like it does: no collector's value or anything like that.

    ReplyDelete
  22. I have a print with G H Durrie signature. It also has a number 0104. The title i think is vecchio mulino in inverno. Cant find it on the internet . Wondering if it has any collectors value.

    ReplyDelete
  23. My G. H. Durrie picture of Cider Making in the Country measures 23/24 x 47/48 inches. Wondering if it has any value?

    ReplyDelete
  24. I have a print of a winter scene, sign Durrie 1861 with brown wooden frame
    I wonser if it is valuable

    ReplyDelete
  25. I have a print with Durrie signature. 1861 Its a winter scene with a famer and an animal. It was bought from a Antique Shop in the year 1984. Wondering if it has any value?

    ReplyDelete
  26. I have print frame and sign by Durrie 1861. Its a winter scene RETURNING TO THE FARM. Its in good conduction I wonder what if it is valuable.

    ReplyDelete
  27. hi, i have a large print about 2 feet by 4 feet a farming seen haying time maybe sign on the bottom right corner g.h.durrie 1863...any info please ....also is it worth anything...thank you.... l.m.l

    ReplyDelete
  28. As indicated above, the listed prints above are the only Durrie images which have any significant value. All other Durrie prints are reproductions with decorative value only.

    ReplyDelete
  29. I have a "old grist Mill" print that seems to be the correct size (approx 27x 181/4)and no dot pattern. Do you know any place in the chicago area where I can take this to have it authenticated? Do you know how many prints of the old grist mill were made from the stone originally by currier & Ives?

    ReplyDelete
  30. hi guys i have a painting of a house and tree on the side signed in lower right hand corner with blank ink w. durrie can you please shed some light on it. bought it in a rural auction house in australia

    ReplyDelete
  31. I bought one that is in a home Meade frame with mounting board in front of it. It has the writing home to thanksgiving cut out and pasted on the front of the mounting board. It measures 14x24 For te image itself. I live near Detroit. Is it worth having someone look at it and where do I go?
    Jrferry@att.net

    ReplyDelete
  32. As explained in the blog; the only original Currier & Ives Durie images are those large folio prints listed above. Everything else is some sort of reproductions. All reproductions have only "decorative" value. I am sure yours is really nice, but it will not have any significant value.

    ReplyDelete
  33. where is the best place to sell my original
    "old grist mill"

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The odds are you have a reproduction, simply because the originals are very rare and the reproductions numerous. If you have an original, you can try a national auction house. If a reproduction, perhaps a local auction or ebay.

      Delete
  34. Chris, thanks for taking the time to put the blog together. It's been very helpful. I picked up a large (47 3/4 x 24) framed "Cider Making" today and trying to research if this is Currier & Ives, and it's value. I discovered there are more than one version of this work done in the last year of Durrie's life, and not sure which one was picked up by Currier and Ives. Mine is the one with the ox drawn apple cart with the driver inside the cart (think original was oil on board). I saw another one work under same title with the driver standing outside the cart (which was oil on canvas). Looks like mine was trimmed down....the tall tree on the right side is cut off about 3/4 of the way up from what I can gather by looking at the original image I located on-line. I'ts on a textured surface with 1/8 inch thick backing material. I read prior posts and checked for "small dots" which I don't see. I can make out Durrie's signature and year 1863. There is no other identifying marks other than a gold colored metal plate on the frame itself that has artist name and work inscription. I'm in Philly suburbs if this is the "buy a new house" version and you wanna take a closer look, but if repro decorator value, that's ok too. Just looking to determine which. Thanks and best regards, Mark

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The originals of this prints are very rare and the reproductions not uncommon, so you probably have a repro. However, best way to tell is to bring it to our shop and we can take a look.

      Delete
    2. Thanks Chris, looks like you're in Chestnut hill. I can probably run down and back over lunch from where I'm located in Malvern. Would I need an appointment? Or if you think you can tell by looking at a picture, I have listed this for sale (as a repro because that's likely the case) on Ebay. Item # 150841008927

      Delete
    3. Hi, Mark I;ve been trying for some time to find some info I think is the same as what so have described... with no luck yet... but will keep checking if you get an answer if it iS a reproduction or not...Linda in Canada

      Delete
    4. Thanks Linda. I haven't been able to come up with any additional info. Chris, the site admin has a place local to me, but I haven't gotten an open window to pop down there yet to have it evaluated. Posted on Ebay at several price points between 100-500 with little or no attention, so I have to lean strongly towards repro. Thanks for checking in. Mark

      Delete
  35. I have seen that the only size for the Durrie winter scenes was the large folio. Does this exclude Trade Card size also? I purchased a "New England Winter Scene" today that I believe is a hand colored lithograph? This does not have the tell-tell dots as I have viewed it under 10x magnification. There is not a great deal of color on this as I have seen in photos of the large folio there is just red and yellow. Below are some links to photos of the print and the image excluding text is as close to 3 1/2" by 5" as I can measure with a tape measure graduated in 1/16" increments. I have shown the frame which I don't believe to be too old also and it measures 6 5/16" X 7 7/8".

    http://img5.sellersourcebook.com/users/93559/currier1.jpg

    http://img5.sellersourcebook.com/users/93559/currier2.jpg

    http://img5.sellersourcebook.com/users/93559/currier3.jpg

    http://img5.sellersourcebook.com/users/93559/currier4.jpg

    http://img5.sellersourcebook.com/users/93559/currier5.jpg

    http://img5.sellersourcebook.com/users/93559/currier6.jpg

    http://img5.sellersourcebook.com/users/93559/currier7.jpg

    http://img5.sellersourcebook.com/users/93559/currier8.jpg

    Please let me know your thoughts. Thank you for your time and help.
    Sincerely,
    Mike Jones

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That print is definitely a reproduction. There are many types of reproductions done besides the dot matrix prints, though those are the most common.

      Delete
    2. Thank you for your help, Chris.

      Delete
  36. Hello. My name is Linda Brown. I am clueless when it comes to art, and I saw your name on a page I was searching. My hubby and I found a painting at a yard sale a few years ago, and I just had to have it. It has been hanging in our bedroom since then. Well, I thought it was a painting, and knew it was old, but I just love it, so never researched. Well a friend of ours saw it recently, and she said I should check with someone because she thought it was worth something. It has GH Durrie 1863 on the front bottom, but you can barely see it. The back has a paper sack looking cover over it that is in tact except for a small piece at the top. I was just wondering if you could maybe tell me if it is even worth anything. We paid $10 at an estate sale, and I love it either way. We are just small town people from MS, and are curious. Thanks for any help or advice.

    the name is in the bottom right hand corner of the painting, it kind of looks like someone took their finger with the paint or a pen and put their name and year in it. it is barely visible.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Really, without seeing it in person I cannot tell you for sure, but the odds are very strong that you have a reproduction. The original C&I prints after Durrie are very rare and the reproductions of Durrie's images quite common, so just on that basis it is almost certainly not an original. It could be a print that has been trimmed (the original prints would have text below them), but that is unlikely. When one adds to that the place you found it, I would say there is only a very, very small chance you have an original. That doesn't mean it isn't attractive and a nice thing to hang in your home, just that it will not have a lot of value.

      Delete
    2. ok, so no value at all? not that it matters. my hubby was just curious. i have no plans to part with it any time soon. i just knew the frame is very old, and was curious about the written name and year.

      Delete
  37. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  38. I just recently purchased an old cardboard waste basket with a reprint of the litho "Winter in the Country" pasted onto it. I love the image and I thought the waste basket/C&I combo was interesting. I'am guessing it was put together in the 1940's or later.
    Nice article Mr. Lane You did a fine job. It is very informative.

    ReplyDelete
  39. I have no clue about paintings but my landlord noticed this one on my wall and wanted it if I ever got rid of it so I figured I should at least check it out it is on a piece of wood the size of an 8x10 photo it says winter in the country then below that it says The Bend In The Road.....over in the right hand corner underneath the painting it says painting by George H.Durrie....do you think it is an origional ???

    ReplyDelete
  40. Mr. Lane, I ran across a Cider Making in the Country painting from Durrie. I don't know anything about these but it is apprx 48" X 24" inside the frame and 56" X 32" outside of the frame. I believe it is canvas and is obviously old. What I am assuming is canvas is green on the back, but it has brown paper with a tag that say's Cider Making in the Country, George H Durrie (detail) New York State Historical Association Coopers Town, New York. The one thing I see negative about this is it does have water stains all over the painting as I show in my pictures. Please look here and see if you can tell me anything about it. http://s603.photobucket.com/albums/tt116/samkelley25/Cider%20Making%20Painting/ Thank you

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is a reproduction y the NYS Historical Association. It is not an original Currier & Ives print. When it was done I cannot tell you, but it is one of a fair number of similar reproductions done of this scene over the years.

      Delete
  41. I have a print it measures 9 1/8 x 14 1/8. Currier litho the road - winter.
    the other marking state: entereed a according to act of congress, in the year
    1853, by N. Currier, in the Clerks office of the distraict - Court of the
    Southern District of New York, Published by N. Currier, 152 Nassau Street NY,
    Lith. of N. Currier NY, O. Knirsch, Lith., The Columbia Bank Note Co.
    Lithographers. Bottom right Corner Litho in USA.


    ReplyDelete
  42. Hello Chris,
    I just found Home To Thanksgiving at an estate sale. It matches all the criteria that I've been able to find: size, coloring, signed, 186, Jno Schuller Dei, and sealed in an old frame. The paper on the back is dry and beginning to crumble. A 2 5/8 inch light tan matting covers (I think) the Home To Thanksgiving title. I'm a scientist, not an expert in art, but It appears to be a C&I lithograph in perfect condition.
    Are there further checks we can make?
    Thank you for your comments.
    Sam

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The odds are still that this is a reproduction, as there is a good reproduction of this print in the right size that is hand colored. However, it could be an original. You can read about things you can check if you go to The Philadelphia Print Shop web site and do a search for 'Currier' and 'Original.' A page comes up that discusses this topic.

      Delete
  43. Hello Mr. Lane, I found your site while trying to research on behalf of my brother a print that was gifted to him. It is very much in this style but even as an artist myself, I am having difficulty nailing down who this artist is or a legible signature. The information I do have is that the title is "Winter in the Country: The Farmers Home." 28inx22in approx. along the bottom edge: Pub. by Farrel & Co. 37 Spring St.,NY on the left and Jacob Rau.Print 183.William St.NY. on the right. I think I've narrowed down that it is from the 1800's since I found other works with the same two:"The Curragh Race Course" from 1867. Can you give me any guidance?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The prints by this firm were done by staff artists, so there is no way to find out who the artist was. This is typical of many popular prints of the 19th century.

      Delete
    2. Any idea if it has any value?

      Delete
  44. Hi I have a GH Durrie print "Winter in the Country" ( calendar piece dated April 1971 with it )

    ReplyDelete
  45. Hello,
    I've recently find what appears to be "Old Mill in Winter" in my old family home. Dimensions about 19x16 inches. Wood panel. There is the name Durrie on the low left side of it (I didn't put the frame away, so I can't tell if there is anything else inscripted on it). The picture have been in our family for about 40 years (at least from what I can remember). I'm just curious about it and I wish to find a little more info of it. If you need I can send you a picture.
    Thanks in advance for any info you might be able to give me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If the only information under the print is the name Durrie, then it is some sort of reproduction. All original prints have the artist's name, the title, and the pubilsher's name and address.

      Delete
  46. HI, I JUST PICKED-UP A DURRIE PRINT-HOME TO THANKSGIVING-also trying to authenticate it. It a large folio (size is about right) with signature in the lower left hand corner. Upper right corner displays a tiny number- 708. Pictures of the original print look as though they were intentionally just black and white. Did C&I watercolor these scenes? AND please, should there be a handwritten number at paper's edge? That also stood out in the B&W pictures. thank you for your reply, Elga

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is a reproduction. The originals of this print never were issued in b&w and they did not have any tiny numbers printed on them like yours does.

      Delete
  47. Hello Chris,
    Thank you for this lovely, cozy, informative blog.

    I, too, have a question about a recent acquisition,"New England Winter Scene."

    Honestly, I had never been aware of an artist named Durrie. I thought I came upon a beautiful painting by an anonymous painter, perhaps a local artist.

    While purchasing, I was told about Currier and Ives. Went home to research how it came to be that two men painted a picture! (yes, this has all been a great new discovery for me, embarrassed to say.)
    ……

    I don't know if it is a reproduction or a print or non of the above.
    I will say that I am curious about the artwork.

    This piece has been painted on a large, very sturdy paper, a beige/brown hue. Almost pinkish. The colors are mostly browns, with hints of green, some orange foliage and highlights, and a red wagon.

    The tree barks seem to be penciled over significantly; I can feel the texture.
    Seems the last to be painted was the snow--dashes and dots with a heavier paint stroke than the rest of the painting.

    So.. was curious to know about Durrie's process/medium.
    Did he use mostly pencil, pastels? I can't seem to find any information about this!

    Thank you for your time.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Also, does this mean that reproductions were painted over after a lithograph process, or can this just be a good effort to copy a Durrie painting (and perhaps is, after all, a local artist!) ?

      Delete
    2. I have to say that there is no way I can be sure what you have without seeing it. From your description, however, I would say that it almost certainly is a copy of a Currier & Ives print, not an original Currier & Ives print.

      As I say above, there are hundreds, if not thousands of copies of this image. Some are done by printed processes (such as dot matrix or collotypes) and that may be what you have. There are also lots of amateur artists who copied these prints, so if yours is actually a painting, that is what it is.
      In the end, any copy is just that, a copy. That doesn't mean it isn't nice, but its value is purely based on how well it is made and what it looks like.

      Delete