image: 24 3/8 in x 18 7/8 in; 61.9125 cm x 47.9425 cm
United States: New York, New York City
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 of a little girl seated on the floor with a high silk hat placed between her legs. She is pouring water from a cup into the hat and is stirring it with a parasol. A piece of lace hangs over the side of the hat. She is surrounded by a pitcher containing a doll turned upside down, a folded fan with a tassel, a spoon, a dish, and an ink well which is on its side spilling ink onto a piece of paper with an envelope.
This print was published by Currier & Ives and Louis Maurer. Louis Maurer (1832-1932) was born in Biebrich, Germany, the oldest of five children. Maurer had a multitude of talents including expert knowledge of conchology, an accomplished flutist, expert marksmen, a skillful painter and a talented lithographer. In 1851 his family moved from Germany to the United States. Maurer first worked for T.W. Strong and shortly after was hired by Nathaniel Currier of Currier & Ives. He worked exclusively for Currier & Ives from 1852 – 1860, before he went to work for Major & Knapp, the successor of Sarony & Major. He continued to work for Currier & Ives by commission but in 1872 he started his own partnership with F. Heppenheimer, Maurer & Heppenheimer. This company specialized in labels, show cards and letterheads. He retired in 1884 and died at the age of one hundred.