Color lithograph entitled, "Sleighing in New York," depicting a scene on Broadway in lower Manhattan during the election of 1848, with Zachary Taylor campaign sled and Barnum's American Museum in the background, c. 1855. Signed, "T. Benecke, New York 55" bottom left. Published by Nagel & Lewis, New York. Light age toning and damp stains in margins. Laid on heavy cardboard.
This large and impressive lithograph has been frequently published in histories of the time period, e.g. P.T. Barnum, America's Greatest Showman (Knopf, 1995) and Running for President: The Candidates and Their Images (Macmillan, 1994). Rich in detail, it presents a social commentary on urban life in the years just prior to the Civil War. On a wintry day on the eve of the election, a sleigh with a portrait of the Whig candidate, "Rough and Ready" Zachary Taylor, barrels down Broadway, its passengers engaged in a snowball fight with passersby. Below, on the street, unruly boys make snowballs, one of them aiming at an African American family, seen at bottom right. In the background, a brass band plays from the balcony of the original Barnum's Museum (destroyed by fire in 1865). Examples of this masterpiece of the lithographer's art seldom appear on the market, this being only the second we have offered in 20 years (the previous one sold to an institution in 2008, for $900). A truly museum-quality piece of Americana.