SNOWED IN
American Art Collector|February 2020
Nathaniel Currier published Frances Flora Bond Palmer’s lithograph American Winter Scenes: Morning in 1854. At that time, James Merritt Ives was his bookkeeper.
JOHN O'HERN

In 1857, Ives became a full partner and the firm of Currier and Ives was born. The company produced thousands of hand-colored lithographs in unlimited editions ranging from 20 cents to $6 each. Palmer (1812-1876) produced over 200 of the company’s scenes although her name doesn’t appear on all of them. She and her husband were commercial illustrators in London and moved to the U.S. in 1844. A critic once wrote that her work had “a boldness and freedom not often exhibited by a female pencil.” Palmer’s output included her famed winter scenes and ranged from floral still lifes to smoky locomotives. Commenting on the popularity of her work one writer noted, “It is likely that during the latter half of the 19th century more pictures by Mrs. Fanny Palmer decorated the homes of ordinary Americans than those of any other artist, living or dead.”

Palmer’s playful scene is one aspect of life living in winter lands. David Vickery portrays its practical and communal side. A warm, inviting light emanates from inside the market while outside, supplies for what some say are Maine’s two seasons—winter and the Fourth of July—sit by their shoveled-out access. Vickery says, “I liked the evening mood of this scene, about 5 p.m. in January, when people are stopping by the store after work, and the beautiful contrast of warmth inside and cold outside, and the messy make-do aspect of winter life.”

He continues, “The ice bin and propane exchange cabinet speak to summer gatherings and grilling (what the propane is most used for), which are now dormant under the record snowfall of 2015, when I shot the reference photo. Also, I found the red ‘ICE’ text very attractive (any chance to use full-strength red) and a comically redundant reminder of what we have to deal with for many months.” Vickery lives within a stone’s throw (or two) of the Olson House, one of Andrew Wyeth’s favorite subjects, and is well-acquainted with Maine’s many moods. He says of his paintings, “It’s getting it to feel real, rather than look real, ultimately.” Having survived many Maine winters and enjoyed the brief summers, I feel at home in Vickery’s paintings—in this case, escaping the bitter cold in the warm camaraderie inside.

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