One of the highlights of Cincinnati’s thirteenth annual Industrial Exposition in 1886 was the trompe l’oeil painting by the American artist William Harnett called The Old Violin. Publisher Frank Tuchfarber, who specialized in art reproductions, bought the painting both for his love of music and his interest in selling a commercial reproduction of the painting.
The resulting chromolithograph was printed in seventeen colors, each from a separate stone. The thickness of the inks, along with the varnish, gives the impression (if not the exact look) of an oil painting. Two versions exist; one published in Cincinnati and one in Covington, Kentucky under the Donaldson Art Sign Company (also known as Donaldson Lithographing Company). Although neither was issued with a printed date, Princeton’s copy is a printer’s proof and so probably from around 1887. The sheet is not trimmed to the image but retains its margins, with their registration crosses, color keys and ink bleeds.
The popularity of this print and the question of the artistic achievement in making the chromolithographic reproduction led to a court battle over the copyright for the print. To read more about this, see http://www.law.uconn.edu/homes/swilf/ip/cases/bleistein.htm