Best known as an allegorical painter, William Holbrook Beard was born in Painesville, Ohio, April 13, 1824. He first began his career as a portrait painter in Ohio, and in 1845 he moved to New York, where his brother, the genre painter James Henry Beard, was established. William Beard first exhibited at the National Academy of Design in 1858, and was elected to the National Academy in 1862. He established himself in the Tenth Street Studio and his work, noted for its imagination and originality, became popular. Beard died in New York on February 20, 1900.
The setting for The Bulls and Bears in the Market is Broad Street, New York City, looking north, in front of the New York Stock Exchange, which appears at the left. The Exchange moved into this building in 1865; it was enlarged and remodeled in 1870 and 1881, and was demolished in 1901. The present New York Stock Exchange stands on the same site. The columned Sub Treasury at the corner of Wall and Nassau Streets Building (now the Federal Hall National Memorial) appears in the distance.
In the "Bulls and Bears in the Market," Beard employed bears to symbolize "bearish" (conservative) investors, and bulls to represent "bullish" (aggressive) investors. These came into usage on Wall Street in the late 19th century- "bulls" referred to investors who bought stocks cheap in hope of a rise, and "bears" to those who sold stocks for future delivery, hoping that meanwhile the prices would drop. Beard may have been inspired in part by the stock market crash of 1873, which produced the worst depression in nineteenth-century America.
Paper: 27 x 36 in. (69 x 91 cm)
Image: 19.5 x 31.25 in. (50 x 79 cm)