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Antique mid 19th century (circa 1845-1857) hand colored lithograph print by Sarony & Major titled “Sarah,” showing a woman with spiral curls and a lace shawl standing at a balcony and feeding a canary in a cage. “Sarony, Major, & Knapp was but one iteration of a variety of lithographic partnerships involving Napoleon Sarony (1821-1896); brothers Henry B. Major (born in England, 1820-1887) and Richard Major (born in England, 1825-1894); and Joseph F. Knapp (1832-1891) and his son Joseph P. Knapp (1864-1951).
Broadly, the credit lines on their prints reflect the following timeline:
1840-1845: Napoleon Sarony and Sarony & Company
1845-1857: Sarony & Major; Sarony & Company
1856-1867: Sarony, Major & Knapp
1864-1884: Major & Knapp
1885-1888: Major, Knapp & Co.
In America on Stone, Harry T. Peters wrote that Napoleon Sarony “was the leading spirit, supplying ideas, securing artists, and drawing most of the portraits, in which he was especially interested.” Sarony is remembered both for his lithographic and photographic work. He was born in Quebec, Canada, and came to New York around 1836. He did lithographic work for Henry R. Robinson and Currier & Ives before starting his own firm with Henry Major in 1845.
Sarony, Major & Knapp emerged in 1857, when they joined with Joseph F. Knapp. In an interview, Sarony later remembered, “In 1858 I sold out my interest [in Sarony, Major and Knapp] and went to Paris to Study art … [after a year] my brother established myself as a photographer at Birmingham, England. In 1867 I returned to New York and opened a photographic studio at 630 Broadway” (New York Dramatic Mirror, June 16, 1894).
Even though Sarony was no longer active in the firm, the name “Sarony, Major & Knapp” appears on prints into the 1860s. The separate firm of Major & Knapp appears in directories as early as 1864. Trow’s Copartnership and Corporation Directory of New York City for 1864 identifies Richard Major and Joseph F. Knapp as the partners in “Major & Knapp.” In general, from 1845-1855, the “Major” referred to Henry B. Major, and from 1855-1868, it referred to Richard Major, though city directories list both brothers as lithographers at the same business address into the mid-1870s.
In 1888, Trow’s directory listed “Major, Knapp & Co. (Richard Major & Joseph F. & Joseph P. Knapp) 56 Park Pl.” In 1889, the partnership had changed to “Knapp & Co. (Joseph F. & Joseph P. Knapp) 56 Park Pl.”
Knapp later became president of the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company. His son, Joseph P. Knapp founded the American Lithograph Company in 1891.”
Good Overall - Yellowing/some foxing to print, gentle wear to frame, backing slightly loose in frame
12.25” x 0.75” x 16.5” / Sans Frame - 9.5” x 13.5” (Width x Depth x Height)