Today, broadcasters often use the terms Bulls and Bears when they report on the Market—Bulls are investors who make money when prices go up, and Bears make money when prices go down. Beard didn't invent those terms, but he is satirizing the bullish and bearish investors by painting them as animals in a huge battle against the backdrop of New York City's Financial Center. The scene is Broad Street with the New York Stock Exchange on the left. This building was later torn down and replaced by the current Stock Exchange on the same spot. The building on the right with the columns is Federal Hall today, but back then it was the U.S. Sub Treasury building. The bulls and bears are locked in a huge battle, and there's fun in exploring the gory details. On the ground are tufts of bear fur and bull hide, gouged and bitten out. A bull on the left is chasing a bear up the red pole. In front of the Stock Exchange, look for a bear being tossed in the air. In the front right, a group of bears examine the hide of a bull they've slaughtered. In the extreme lower right a bear takes a break from the battle to study his account book. Look above him and in the middle ground a bear is using a rope to try and lasso a bull. Beard may have been inspired by the stock market crash of 1873, which produced the worst depression in 19th-century America. That was six years before he did this painting. Even in its satire, the painting captures the real energy and passion of the stock exchange that continue even today.

William Holbrook Beard painted "Bulls and Bears in the Market in 1879" to poke fun at Wall Street and the Stock Market.

Creative: Tronvig Group