Louis Prang Makes an Offer

"My baggage packed, my canvases and studies rolled up, I purchased a first class ticket for New York . . . I went to bed dreaming of a future very different from the past persuaded that by changing countries one changes his luck . . . "
Louis Prang & Company Showroom, Boston, displaying fine art paintings
Massachusetts Statehouse postcard published by Prang
Advertising promotion for Prang Christmas cards

Amid his dissatisfaction over the progress of his career and a larger desire to devote himself to the fine and decorative arts after almost a full decade in Paris, Tommaso Juglaris began to feel the lure of America. It presented itself as a very tempting offer first raised by Peter Thurwanger. Louis Prang & Company, a leading Boston publishing house specializing in chromolithography, needed an artistic director. Would Juglaris like to go to America? The terms seemed clear and firm: two hundred lire per week, working mornings only, with afternoons off for whatever art Juglaris wanted to pursue!

Today the founder and namesake of Louis Prang & Company is known as the “Father of the American Christmas Card,” credited with introducing some of the earliest color-printed Christmas cards in the United States and creating a huge demand for them. Prang also won fame for pioneering public art education and developing a line of art supplies for children. His firm, which did business on both sides of the Atlantic, rivaled Currier & Ives in the popularity of its chromolithographs. Moreover, Prang sponsored much-publicized design competitions as he constantly sought to improve the art quality of his company’s prodigious output. The effort to recruit Juglaris was very much in keeping with Prang’s artistic ambitions for his business. Initially, Juglaris turned the offer down, but lobbied by Prang’s agent a second and third time, he changed his mind. Martin Thurwanger, who three decades earlier had spent time in America producing lithographs of scientific subjects for the United States government, may have encouraged Juglaris to accept. Whatever the case, America was certainly legendary for its wide-open spaces and wide-open opportunities. As his memoir attests, Juglaris looked forward to having free rein to advance himself and his art to an extent never before possible.