The Riddle

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 of a man and woman seated on either side of a bed in which a woman in bedclothes reclines. Furnishings include a bed with pillows and skirt, stool with twisted legs, drapery, patterned carpet, wallpaper and a dresser with a mirror.
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.
Currently not on view
date made
ca 1843
Robinson, Henry R.
place made
United States: New York, New York
Physical Description
hand-colored (image production method/technique)
ink (overall material)
paper (overall material)
image: 7 1/2 in x 11 1/4 in; 19.05 cm x 28.575 cm
overall: 10 in x 14 in; 25.4 cm x 35.56 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
Harry T. Peters "America on Stone" Lithography Collection
Courtship, love
Comic prints
See more items in
Home and Community Life: Domestic Life
Clothing & Accessories
Domestic Furnishings
Peters Prints
Data Source
National Museum of American History


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