[Barre, MA? c.1835-1840]. 18" x 21-1/2", visible printed area. Woodcut illustration, matted behind glass in attractive wood frame 27-1/2" x 30-1/4". Printed with black ink. Several closed tears repaired without loss; loss right blank upper corner. Good+.
A seven-figure image featuring seven stages of a woman's life: ages 1, 12, 18, 30, 50, 75, and 90. The figures stand upon pyramid steps; text printed beneath each illustration, all surrounded by a decorative border. A 30-year-old woman stands on the peak step and is "at the zenith of her intellectual and physical powers." The 18-year-old is at "the most critical age in the life of a female," at risk of "bestowing [her affections] on man unworthily, or in vain" if she does not "first [give] her heart to God." The 50-year-old's "home is her castle" and her "time not spent in providing for her household is devoted to counseling her children, who at this time of her life are ready to go forth into society." The 90-year-old is a crone; "we see all that remains of her who at twelve and eighteen, tripped 'on th [sic] light fantastic toe.'"
Alden's woodcut, "The Life and Age of Man," is well-known and based on the classical idea of the seven ages of man. This image of the seven ages of woman is less common. Currier and Ives did a version of this theme, copyright by Nathaniel Currier in 1850, showing eleven women from infancy to a centenarian. The Annual Report of the Library Company of Philadelphia for the Year 2004 puts the estimated production date of this print at 1835 in Barre, Massachusetts. Several versions issued: one such had an imprint within the ornamental border; ours, like those in the collections of four institutions, has no imprint and no record of auction sales.
Albert Alden [1812-1883] was a wood engraver, cartographer, and publisher in Barre, Massachusetts, from the 1830s to 1850s. His death notice states that he was involved in the book business at Barnstable in his earlier years. He was State Senator from the Worcester District in 1852. His published works include images for ABCs for children, scientific illustrations, images for periodicals and almanacs, maps, and advertisements. He also published the Barre Gazette beginning in the 1830s; the Gazette continues to be published by Turley Publications, Inc. today.
OCLC 27673899 [3 - Peabody Essex Mus., Williams Coll., LCP], 1066107028 [1-AAS] as of January 2020. Item #36511