A 1794 stipple engraving of a scene in a Dame school, in which an older woman, frequently a widow, holds class for other people’s young children out of her own house. Dame schools were common in Great Britain and New England during the 18th Century and into the early 19th Century but frequently provided only limited academics.
“The School Mistress” depicts a teacher reading to a girl casually standing next to her, while the rest of the class busies themselves off to the side. It is a domestic scene, with dishes visible in a pantry and a cat seated amid everyone.
The title is printed below the image, along with nine rhyming lines that describe the scene. The engraver is identified as J. Coles (maybe John Coles). The printer is Thomas Macklin (1752/3-1800), a successful, print seller, publisher, and patron of the arts of Fleet Street, London. Both the scene and the verses are from William Shenstone’s 1742 poem, “The School Mistress,” and this probably an example from Macklin's Poet’s Gallery project. The print is a copy of an original painting by English artist, Francis Wheatley (1747-1801).
Our collection database is a work in progress. We may update this record based on further research and review. Learn more about our approach to sharing our collection online.