Life & Age of Man. Stages of Man’s Life from the Cradle to the Grave. – Tanya Sheehan
Joy O. Ude, Art teacher, Howry STEAM Academy
Examined only digital image.
Currier, Nathaniel, 1813-1888, artist.
Life & Age of Man. Stages of Man’s Life from the Cradle to the Grave. New York: N. Currier, [ca. 1847].
*GC – Allegories [P.2004.14.1]
Keywords/Subject heading: Stages; Lithograph; Representation.
Stages of a Man’s Life. As I closely scrutinize the images and text of this lithograph, I wonder: what warrants the detailed documentation of a man’s life? What’s the criteria? Are the stages represented in this lithograph aspirational, a template for success? Are they considered typical of the time period?
I review the lithograph a second, third, and fourth time, and it becomes more apparent that it’s like an infographic for the life of a particular type of man. A man born into a life free from life’s worries. A man to whom all the privileges and opportunities of the world are assured. A man for whom everything falls perfectly into place.
Stages of a Man’s Life, only if one is afforded every basic need and resource, allowing him to maintain that “lamblike innocence.” (5 years)
Stages of a Man’s Life, only if the Devil does indeed flee when you resist. But what if society has labeled you the Devil? (all stages)
Stages of a Man’s Life, only if one makes it beyond the stages of bull or dog. (30 and 70 years)
Where is the lithograph, the poster, the visual for the life of a man whose stages are suddenly cut short? Where are the images for the man whose stages do not progress so logically and lineally? Where is the illustration for the man whose stages are pre-determined, shaped by society without his knowledge or consent?
It’s evident, that as with much of the history of this country, you won’t see such descriptive recognition of the life of the Indigenous man. No such representation for the man that was once counted as 3/5ths of a man. No lithograph for the man that suffered through internment generations later.
Stages of a Man’s Life. A life likely portrayed by those with the power and freedom to enjoy such a simple, successful version of a life.