Before the age of the internet, most art was only accessible to those who were able to travel to see collections of art, limiting this important part of our culture to very few. In the late 19th century, the print house Curtis & Cameron began to produce prints to help share important works of art.  "The Copley Prints" were a specific collection named after another important early American artist, John Singleton Copley (1738-1815). As their logo above notes, the prints were notable treasures and available for sale at "the nation's finest art galleries."


Above are some of the prints we have seen come through Architectural Antiques, an excellent example of the Curtis & Cameron Copley series. They are in their original oak frame, in pristine condition and to scale of the originals at 4′3″high x 8′ wide!  

John Singer Sargent commented on the Copley series in 1916:

“I have pleasure in expressing my opinion of the excellence of your Copley prints.  Seven years ago the publishers of the Copley prints, Messrs. Curtis & Cameron, recognized that there is in our country, in public and private collections, a vast number of superior works of art, not only by American artists, but also a large number of the great pictures of Europe, which have from time to time been added to store of our national art wealth.  As a good English observer and critic, William Sharp, has said, America is on the way to become the Louvre of the nations, -already possessing so distinguished a congregation of pictures, of all schools and periods, that the native student of art no longer go abroad to learn the tidal reach and high-water mark in this or that nation’s achievements, in this or that school’s accomplishments, in this or that painter’s individual work.” 

This bold statement from one of America’s most well-known and sought-after artists for an opening of Curtis & Cameron’s Copley Prints Catalog speaks to the importance of Curtis and Cameron’s print collections, which allowed people from every walk of life to explore art, no matter their locale.  Sargent’s murals, now located in the Boston Library, were also featured works within C & C’s catalog.

The prints that C & C produced that we had the pleasure of having in store are based on two works by Frederick Dielman--one entitled "Law," the other "History." They are based on those in the Thomas Jefferson room of the Library of Congress.  The original mosaics are incredibly intricate in patterns of glass. 


As another historic part of this story, the print were originally sold by the Beard Art Galleries, founded in 1886 in Minneapolis by Harington Beard from Boston. The gallery featured fine works of art from America and Europe and also supplied these high quality lithographs.

Beard Gallery, originally located on the fourth floor of Dayton’s department store, later moved to a new location that was specifically designed to showcase beautiful wares “with the pronounced growth of Minneapolis in things artistic.” In a 1914 review, the gallery was described as focusing on color, warmth, and light.  A large 14 x 26 foot skylight ‘splendidly’ lit the main gallery and it was said that “one of the most pleasing effects of the whole place is its lighting. This was designed by National X-ray Reflector Company and is indirect.” The review goes on to say that “the absence of light in the eye is sound theoretically and at the same time this lighting produces and effect which is quite incomparable.”

With this description, we could quite possibly recreate this historic look with art and lighting right here in our showroom, over 100 years later!