Sentimental genre prints documented the social image of Victorian virtue through domestic scenes of courtship, family, home life, and images of the “genteel female.” Children are depicted studying nature or caring for their obedient pets as they learn their place in the greater world. Romantic scenes picture devoted husbands with their contented, dutiful wives. In these prints, young women educated in reading, music, needlework, the arts, the language of flowers, basic math and science are subjugated to their family’s needs.
These prints became popular as lithography was introduced to 19th Century Americans. As a new art form, it was affordable for the masses and provided a means to share visual information by crossing the barriers of race, class and language. Sentimental prints encouraged the artistic endeavors of schoolgirls and promoted the ambitions of amateur artists, while serving as both moral instruction and home or business decoration. They are a pictorial record of our romanticized past.
This colored print is an interior scene dipicting a young girl of coquettish demeanor, seated on a chair. She is wearing everyday dress that includes lace, a ribbon sash, short stockings, and a straw hat with a bow on the floor in foreground. Rich fabric is draped over the arm of an ornately carved upholstered chair and the background is wallpapered.
Henry R. Robinson was a caricaturist, lithographer, print publisher and retailer active in New York City from 1833 until 1851. He was well known as a political cartoonist and was politically affiliated with the anti-Jackson Whig party. He advertised his affiliation with a wig silhouette which he used as an advertising logo for his shop in New York City. Like many of his contemporaries, he mentored other lithographers, including Napoleon Sarony. In 1842 he was arrested for selling obscene pictures and books. His Sept 29, 1842 court case of People vs. H.R. Robinson in New York City can be found in the District Attorney Indictment Papers in the Municipal Archives.