March 13, 2013

Framed, Part I

I was hunting for something in my house, and came across a cache of old chromolithographs that my father had collected. They’re by the artist and inventor, Louis Prang, also known as the Father of the American Christmas Card. Prang was a noted lithographer in the mid-1800’s and was elemental in bringing art to schools through his reproductions of famous works.

Chromolithographs were made using multiple lithographic stones, one for each color, and were extremely expensive when done for the best quality results. Depending on the number of colors present, a chromolithograph could take months to produce, by very skilled workers. Some chromolithographs had as few as four colours, and others as many as 40! Prang’s chromolithographs were of the highest quality, especially in America at that time.

William Walters, who founded what is now known as the Walters Art Museum, commissioned Louis Prang & Co., the foremost practitioners of the art of chromolithography, to reproduce choice examples of Chinese porcelain from his extensive collection.Prang’s artisans engaged in the painstaking work of recording every detail of Walters’ vases to produce richly colored lithographs that faithfully captured the surface and color of each ceramic piece. The production of the book took nearly sixteen years and brought together some of the nation’s finest artists and craftspeople.

In one of the prints, the artists have painted a reflection of William Walters’ house and the nearby Washington Monument in Baltimore!Each of the prints has a piece of tissue separating it from the others, and describing the vase in great detail. I love the way the tissue echoes the vase it was protecting.

I’ve been offered the opportunity to have a piece of art framed by a custom framer (more on that in another post), and decided to have one of these prints framed. Naturally, I can’t decide which one.

There are 27 prints in total, not all of them in perfect condition.

The colours are all still incredibly vibrant, but some of the backing has flaked off, and a few of the prints are stuck together.

The detail on each print is exceptional. Even down to the fine cracks and crazing on some of the pieces.

There are just so many stunning prints, that it’s hard to make up my mind. This one?

Or this one?

They’re so detailed, that they look like photographs.

Which one to choose?

Which one do you like the most? Please help me choose!


  1. One? Just one? Although I am wild about the yellow-green dragon bottle vase, I would pick the rust vase with the reflection of the Washington Monument.

  2. These are indeed a treasure trove. I would be inclined to do more than one, in say a grouping of similar types - eg the plain vases you show, such as the yellow, the celadon, and the sang de boeuf. Or the red and white dragon bowl and the green and yellow dragon vase. At least this way you'd get the same frame. It's always quite difficult to do the same frame later, because the stock may have run out. Feel free to be dismissive, as I was so cheeky regarding papal names!

  3. I love the yellow vase with the green dragon best too, but they're all lovely. I see why you're having trouble deciding. Maybe if you know where you'll place it in your home the colors will guide you.

    1. Ditto on the yellow with green dragon. The red and green dragon along with the yellow and green would make a fabulous pair.

  4. Hi Meg, I'm going to second "Columnist"--I think that you would benefit from framing several of these gorgeous lithos and having a wall dedicated to them. I have never heard of Louis Prang (am going to do some research on him), but these works of art are spectacular and probably pretty valuable. Plus they were your father's and that adds tremendous personal import. You didn't say what the size of the folios is....that is also important to consider. Can't wait to see the finished work(s). xoxo


  5. If possible it would be good to have a grouping of these. The colors are amazing!
    You have a such an interesting life -- from
    watching grass grow to finding beautiful treasures!! Love your blog.

  6. Oh how fun -I think I would have the vase with the Baltimore reflection framed -it has a story.

  7. HI,
    Either the second very beautiful vase with the pink at the top or the green and yellow dragon. They are all gorgeous! You really can't make a bad choice.

  8. These are beautiful, stunning. I have never heard of him, how special that you have something your dad loved + that is the story! I am very taken with the green dragon on the red vase + the yellow vase with the green dragon either one is so beautiful. Good picking!

  9. The one with the green lizard or dragon on the red vase.Or the one with his house. Some of the others are nice, but the patterns are very familiar. Want to sell any? Ann

  10. I like the 2nd one, the vase with red flowers and then I also like the last plate. Looks so rich, a one of a kind item. The last plate is awesome and unique looking.

  11. I am Louis Prang's 5th lineal descendant. I also have a ton of these Walter's Vase collection done by Prang. I am looking to sell the vases I have that are also originals. I can be contacted at if you have any information on where I would be able to do so. Thank you for your time.


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