Home Sweet Home
"Mid pleasures and palaces though we may roam,
Be it ever so humble there's no place like home!
A charm from the skies seems to hallow us there,
Which seek through the world, is ne'er met with elsewhere."
The music for "Home Sweet Home," was written
in 1821 by Henry Rowley Bishop; John Howard Payne added
the lyrics in 1823. It became a hit song in the middle
of the century. To see the score sheet, click here.
America in the second half
of the nineteenth century was not only in transition, it was
in motion. Relocation, emigration, and immigration in all directions
of the compass whenever times grew hard in one place and looked
better in another were patterns for the whole country. Little
wonder, then, that the home in the nineteenth century was viewed
as "...a domestic island of virtue and stability."
With industrialization also "...looming as threat and menace,
the cultivated home grew stronger and lay greater claim as the
official image of America." (36)
The home was at the heart
of the nostalgia trend. Lithography (hand colored) and chromolithography
(colored in the printing process) made it possible to mass produce
the image of a cultivated, settled, middle-class home. Regardless
of how high or low the actual standards of living were, the
images gave people something to aim for, model, and believe
Most families could affort
to put up a Currier and Ives print somewhere in their home.
In a middle class home, it would be framed and placed in the
which served as the public center of the house. In a farmhouse,
it might be found in the sitting room or barn or both.
For a host of reasons, America
experienced its greatest building boom to date in the second
half of the nineteenth century, and many of these houses contained
either a parlor or a sitting room. The boom, and the constantly
migrating population, led to the appearance of several new housing
types and architectural styles, ranging from the sod house to
the Queen Anne mansion. (38)
Currier and Ives represented the idealized versions of the best
of these, often with a happy family in the scene. The people
in these images–as in all the nostalgic prints–are not meant
to be real and specific. Photography could accomplish that.
These images, by contrast, are meant to leave room for the viewer
to imagine that it is he or she that is standing there, in his
or her mansion, townhouse, farm, or sturdy log cabin.
Link to Images