As one of Currier & Ives’s leading artists, Frances (?Fanny?) Bond Palmer (1812–1876) was a major lithographer whose prints found their way into homes, schools, barns, taverns, business offices, yacht clubs, and elsewhere, reaching a mass audience during her day. Her life was a true American fable—the story of an immigrant who came to the United States to start a new life for herself and her family and rose to the top of her profession.
In Fanny Palmer: The Life and Works of a Currier & Ives Artist, Rubinstein chronicles the details of Palmer’s life, situating her work as the product of her own merit rather than as an achievement of Currier & Ives, and portraying the artist as an enterprising professional and one of the most versatile and prolific lithographers of her day. Largely ignored by art historians because of her status as a graphic artist and as an employee of famous male publishers, Palmer’s work was nonetheless a staple in nineteenth-century culture. Palmer was interested in recording all subjects that made up American life: her images of railroads, clipper ships, New York City, Civil War battle scenes, pictures of domestic bliss, and vistas of the newly opened West comprised at least two hundred of the company’s signed prints. A long-time employee of Currier & Ives, she also collaborated anonymously with other staff artists, supplying landscape backgrounds and architectural elements to countless compositions.
The first full-length biography of Palmer’s life and work, as well as the first illustrated, annotated catalog of her drawings and prints, including a number of works that are new to the public and to scholars, Rubinstein’s book shines a spotlight on this accomplished artist, arguing for her long overdue recognition as a pioneer in the
history of women artists.