Chromolithograph entitled "Custer's Last Fight"

Chromolithograph entitled "Custer's Last Fight"

Considered one of the most reproduced lithographs of its time with over 150,000 copies distributed to saloons and dining establishments, this print was used as an advertising promotion for Budweiser Beer. This chromolithograph on paper is based on the Cassilly Adams painting that was inspired by the narrative of the battle by a scout named Curley. The original painting by Adams was completed in 1888 and sold to John Ferber who owned a saloon in St Louis, Missouri. Adolphus Busch acquired the painting along with a saloon when the owner couldn't pay his bills for the sum of $35,000 in 1892. Eager to have the original copied for advertising, he commissioned the Milwaukee Lithographic Engraving Company. Their artist, Otto F. Becker, produced a 24X40 inch painting that was then divided into six sections and given to other artists to create the color plates used to produce the 1896 advertising prints.
The restored Becker painting hangs in the St. Louis board room of Anheuser-Busch, Incorporated. The original Adams painting was destroyed by fire on June 13, 1946. Versions of the advertising print vary according to margin size and legend content, but the first run edition resulted in 15,000 prints. There have since been 18 subsequent editions totaling over 1 million copies according to Anheuser-Busch.
The colored print depicts the battle between General Custer's troops and Indian warriors at Little Big Horn. Custer is featured at center waving a saber and dressed in a fringed buckskin. The remaining cavalry officers, with the exception of Custer's brother Tom, are dressed in military uniform. Indians are armed with scalping knives, tomahawks, clubs, spears and rifles. The dead appear in foreground, with several identified in the bottom margin. The backgroud depicts a peaceful landscape. Custer's medals and banners are depicted in lower left margin while a mounted Indian poses beside a monument in lower right margin. Text below the image advertises the Anheuser-Busch Brewing Assn.
Currently not on view
Object Name
Object Type
Date made
Custer, Thomas Ward
Rain In The Face
Cooke, William W.
Yates, George W.
Reed, Harry Armstrong
Reily, William Van W.
Smith, Algernon E.
Custer, George Armstrong
Busch, Adolphus
commissioned by
Anheuser-Busch Companies, Incorporated
Adams, Cassily
Milwaukee Lithographic & Engraving Company
Becker, F. Otto
place made
United States: Wisconsin, Milwaukee
United States: Montana, Little Bighorn
Physical Description
paper (overall material)
ink (overall material)
image: 24 in x 38 in; 60.96 cm x 96.52 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
Harry T. Peters "America on Stone" Lithography Collection
Battle Scenes
Horseback Riding
Native Americans
Uniforms, Military
Chronology: 1870-1879
Battle of the Little Bighorn
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Home and Community Life: Domestic Life
Domestic Furnishings
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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I was born in Butte Montana on may 13 1942 it seemed like every bar I was in had one of these pictures in them

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