Maryland Historical Society

Baltimore, MD



More Than Meets the Eye: Maryland History in Prints, 1750-1900


The Maryland Historical Society announces the opening of More Than Meets the Eye: Maryland History in Prints, 1750-1900. The exhibition opened July 16, 1999 and runs through January 16, 2000 (closed temporarily from October 18 - November 23). Including over 35 prints from the MHS's collection, More Than Meets the Eye provides a fascinating glimpse into the political and social trends that shaped the state's history in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Although produced mainly for commercial purposes, Maryland prints of the late 18th and 19th centuries were highly prized and viewed by the public with great interest. The prints presented in the exhibition at the MHS explore four themes from Maryland's history: immigration, rowdyism (riots and unruly gatherings), evangelical religion and reform movements, and changes imposed upon Maryland's landscape by the rapidly increasing population. Says curator Laura Rice, "These specific prints were selected because they provide a good cross-section of the MHS's collection as a whole. They also, quite literally, illustrate some of the more significant trends in Maryland's history and afford the viewer a unique opportunity to view Maryland's past through the lens of eighteenth and nineteenth century lithographs."

The prints being exhibited, according to Rice, were not regarded as fine art when they were made. However, says Rice, "It is truly remarkable how good they are and how well they manage to convey their messages, whether they be advertising a hotel, a railroad, a volunteer fire company, or a printing company." Adds Rice, "People, when these prints were made, did collect them. Some of these lithographs were printed as trading cards and manufacturers gave them out as premiums with a purchase. People would try to 'collect all five,' much as kids might collect baseball cards today," she explains.

In addition to curating the exhibition at the MHS, Rice is also authoring a new book that will be published by the Press at the Maryland Historical Society in the winter of 1999-2000. The book, Maryland History in Prints:: 1752-1900, will be approximately 350 pages in length and will contain 320 images (80-100 of which will be in full color).

Images from top to bottom: Canvas Back Duck, drawn fom Nature by John James Audobon, Lithograph Printed and Sold by J. T. Bowen, 10.8 x 19.3 cm; Phoenix Line, "Safety Coaches," Moses Swett, Invt. et Del., c. 1835, Lithograph of Endicott and Swett, NY; The Thomas Viaduct, drawn on stone by Thomas Campbell, 1835, Lithograph.

Read more about the Maryland Historical Society in Resource Library Magazine

For further biographical information on selected artists cited in this article please see America's Distinguished Artists, a national registry of historic artists.

rev. 10/18/10

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