Louis Prang

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Louis Prang
Portrait of Louis Prang.jpg
Louis Prang
Born(1824-03-12)March 12, 1824
DiedJune 15, 1909(1909-06-15) (aged 85)
Los Angeles, California
Known forPrinting, lithography, publishing
Spouse(s)Rosa Gerber

Louis Prang (March 12, 1824 June 15, 1909) was an American printer, lithographer, publisher, and Georgist. [1] He is sometimes known as the "father of the American Christmas card".

Christmas card

A Christmas card is a greeting card sent as part of the traditional celebration of Christmas in order to convey between people a range of sentiments related to Christmastide and the holiday season. Christmas cards are usually exchanged during the weeks preceding Christmas Day by many people in Western society and in Asia. The traditional greeting reads "wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year". There are innumerable variations on this greeting, many cards expressing more religious sentiment, or containing a poem, prayer, Christmas song lyrics or Biblical verse; others focus on the general holiday season with an all-inclusive "Season's greetings".



Louis Prang House, Roxbury, Boston, Massachusetts S0014.jpg
Louis Prang House, Roxbury, Boston, Massachusetts
Louis Prang Factory, Roxbury, Boston, Massachusetts S0001.jpg
Louis Prang Factory, Roxbury, Boston, Massachusetts

Prang was born in Breslau in Prussian Silesia. His father Jonas Louis Prang was a textile manufacturer and of French Huguenot origin; his mother, Rosina Silverman, was German. [2] Because of health problems as a boy, Prang was unable to receive much standard schooling and became an apprentice to his father, learning engraving and calico dyeing and printing. In the early 1840s, Prang travelled around Bohemia working in printing and textiles. However, after some travel in Europe, he became involved in revolutionary activities in 1848. Pursued by the Prussian government, he went to Switzerland and in 1850 emigrated to the United States and Boston, Massachusetts.[ citation needed ]

Wrocław City in Lower Silesian Voivodeship, Poland

Wrocław is a city in western Poland and the largest city in the historical region of Silesia. It lies on the banks of the River Oder in the Silesian Lowlands of Central Europe, roughly 350 kilometres (220 mi) from the Baltic Sea to the north and 40 kilometres (25 mi) from the Sudeten Mountains to the south. The population of Wrocław in 2018 was 639,258, making it the fourth-largest city in Poland and the main city of the Wrocław agglomeration.

Bohemia Historical land in Czech Republic

Bohemia is the westernmost and largest historical region of the Czech lands in the present-day Czech Republic. In a broader meaning, Bohemia sometimes refers to the entire Czech territory, including Moravia and Czech Silesia, especially in a historical context, such as the Lands of the Bohemian Crown ruled by Bohemian kings.

Boston Capital city of Massachusetts, United States

Boston is the capital and most populous city of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in the United States. The city proper covers 48 square miles (124 km2) with an estimated population of 685,094 in 2017, making it also the most populous city in New England. Boston is the seat of Suffolk County as well, although the county government was disbanded on July 1, 1999. The city is the economic and cultural anchor of a substantially larger metropolitan area known as Greater Boston, a metropolitan statistical area (MSA) home to a census-estimated 4.8 million people in 2016 and ranking as the tenth-largest such area in the country. As a combined statistical area (CSA), this wider commuting region is home to some 8.2 million people, making it the sixth-largest in the United States.

Early work

Prang's early activities in the US publishing architectural books and making leather goods were not very successful, and he began to make wood engravings for illustrations in books. In 1851 he worked for Frank Leslie, art director for Gleason's Pictorial Drawing-Room Companion , and later with John Andrew. In 1851, he married Rosa Gerber, a Swiss woman he had met in Paris in 1846.

Frank Leslie American artist and publisher

Frank Leslie was an English-born American engraver, illustrator, and publisher of family periodicals.

Gleason's Pictorial Drawing-Room Companion was a 19th-century illustrated periodical published in Boston, Massachusetts. The magazine was founded by Frederick Gleason in 1851. The publication name was changed to Ballou's Pictorial Drawing-Room Companion in 1855, after managing editor Maturin Murray Ballou bought out the interest of Gleason. The magazine absorbed the Illustrated News of New York in 1853. The Pictorial featured artists such as Winslow Homer, and authors such as: Giddings H. Ballou, Susan H. Blaisdell, Alice Carey, Sylvanus Cobb, Jr., Sophronia Currier, Mrs. S.P. Doughty, Francis A. Durivage, Aglaus Forrester, Mrs. H.C. Gardner, Joseph Holt Ingraham, Grace Lee, Mary A. Lowell, Mary L. Meany, Ellen Alice Moriarty, Arthur Morton, Frances P. Pepperell, Mary E. Robinson, M.V. St. Leon, Frederick Ward Saunders, Sue M. Scott, Maurice Silingsby, Frederick Stanhope, Horace B. Staniford, John Thornberry, Winnie Woodfern, and Joseph Wolf.

Lincoln as a boy, reading at night, by Eastman Johnson Lincoln-as-a-boy-reading-at-night.jpeg
Lincoln as a boy, reading at night, by Eastman Johnson
Cover of Lydia Very's verse version of Red Riding Hood (1863), one of a series of shaped die-cut books issued by Prang. Very Red-Riding-Hood.jpg
Cover of Lydia Very's verse version of Red Riding Hood (1863), one of a series of shaped die-cut books issued by Prang.

Lithography and career

In 1856, Prang and a partner created a firm, Prang and Mayer, to produce lithographs. The company specialized in prints of buildings and towns in Massachusetts. In 1860, he bought the share of his partner, creating L. Prang and Company and began work in colored printing of advertising and other forms of business materials. [3] The firm became quite successful, and became known for war maps, printed during the American Civil War and distributed by newspapers.

American Civil War Civil war in the United States from 1861 to 1865

The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States from 1861 to 1865, between the North and the South. The Civil War is the most studied and written about episode in U.S. history. Primarily as a result of the long-standing controversy over the enslavement of black people, war broke out in April 1861 when secessionist forces attacked Fort Sumter in South Carolina shortly after Abraham Lincoln had been inaugurated as the President of the United States. The loyalists of the Union in the North proclaimed support for the Constitution. They faced secessionists of the Confederate States in the South, who advocated for states' rights to uphold slavery.

In 1864, Prang went to Europe to learn about cutting-edge German lithography. [2] Returning the next year, Prang began to create high quality reproductions of major art works. Prang also began creating series of popular album cards, advertised to be collected into scrapbooks, showing natural scenes and patriotic symbols. At Christmas 1873, Prang began creating greeting cards for the popular market in England and began selling the Christmas card in America in 1874. Therefore, he is sometimes called the "father of the American Christmas card." [3] Prang is also known for his efforts to improve art education in the US, publishing instructional books and creating a foundation to train art teachers.

Scrapbooking method for preserving personal and family history in the form of a scrapbook

Scrapbooking is a method of preserving, presenting, arranging personal and family history in the form of a book, box, card. Typical memorabilia include photographs, printed media, and artwork. Scrapbook albums are often decorated and frequently contain extensive journaling or written descriptions. Scrapbooking started in the United Kingdom in the nineteenth century.

Greeting card illustrated piece of card or high quality paper featuring an expression of friendship or other sentiment

A greeting card is an illustrated piece of card stock or high quality paper featuring an expression of friendship or other sentiment. Although greeting cards are usually given on special occasions such as birthdays, Christmas or other holidays, such as Halloween, they are also sent to convey thanks or express other feelings. Greeting cards, usually packaged with an envelope, come in a variety of styles. There are both mass-produced as well as handmade versions that are distributed by hundreds of companies large and small. While typically inexpensive, more elaborate cards with die-cuts or glued-on decorations may be more expensive.

Prang was an active supporter of women artists, both commissioning and collecting artworks by women. Many of his lithographs featured works by female artists, such as the botanical illustration of Ellen Thayer Fisher. In 1881, his company employed more than one hundred women. [4]

Botanical illustration drawing or painted image of plants and their components

Botanical illustration is the art of depicting the form, color, and details of plant species, frequently in watercolor paintings. They must be scientifically accurate but often also have an artistic component and may be printed with a botanical description in books, magazines, and other media or sold as a work of art. Often composed in consultation with a scientific author, their creation requires an understanding of plant morphology and access to specimens and references.

Ellen Thayer Fisher American botanical illustrator

Ellen "Nelly" Thayer Fisher was an American botanical illustrator. Fisher exhibited her paintings at the National Academy of Design and other exhibitions. She was an active contributor to the exhibitions of the American Watercolor Society, beginning in 1872. In addition to being shown in galleries and exhibitions, her paintings of flora and fauna were widely reproduced as chromolithographs by Boston publisher Louis Prang.

In June 1886 Prang published a series of prints under the title Prang's War Pictures: Aquarelle Facsimile Prints. [5] These became popular and helped inspire a genre of such prints, particularly the series issued by Kurz and Allison. [5] However, Prang aimed at a more modern and individual treatment, as opposed to the panoramic style of Kurz and Allison, and before them, Currier and Ives. [6]

In 1897 L. Prang and Company merged with the Taber Art Company of New Bedford, Massachusetts, [7] creating the Taber-Prang Company and moved to Springfield, Massachusetts.

Prang died of pleuropneumonia on June 15, 1909, at the Glendale Sanitarium in Los Angeles. [8] [9] He is buried in Forest Hills Cemetery in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts.


See also


  1. Mills, Benjamin Fay (1911). "Louis Prang, Popularizer of Art". Vocations, Vocational guidance, Hall & Locke Company. 10: 254. Retrieved 13 December 2015.
  2. 1 2 "A Finding Aid to the Louis Prang papers". Archives of American Art. Smithsonian Institution. Retrieved 19 December 2013.
  3. 1 2 Meggs, Philip B. A History of Graphic Design. 1998 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. p. 148. ISBN   0-471-29198-6.
  4. "You Go Girl! Celebrating Women Artists" (PDF). The Heckscher Museum of Art. Retrieved 27 February 2017.
  5. 1 2 Neely, Mark E; Holzer, Harold (2000). The Union Image: Popular Prints of the Civil War North. The University of North Carolina Press. pp. 213–4. ISBN   0-8078-2510-7.
  6. Neely, Mark E; Holzer, Harold (2000). The Union Image: Popular Prints of the Civil War North. The University of North Carolina Press. pp. 219–222. ISBN   0-8078-2510-7.
  7. "Art Publishers Consolidate". The American Stationer. May 18, 1897. pp. 774–775. Retrieved January 29, 2019.
  8. "Noted Color Printer Dies". Los Angeles Herald. June 16, 1909. Retrieved January 29, 2019.
  9. "Louis Prang". The New York Times . June 16, 1909. Retrieved January 29, 2019.

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