Maggie Mitchell


This colored print is a signed oval bust portrait with a light green background on a red banner with gold fringe. The portrait depicts auburn haired actress Maggie Mitchell, wearing a white earring, a white dress and a matching hat. . The caption stamped at the top of the poster announces the location and date of the performance as “Park Theatre, Tuesday, March 14.”

The Park Theater was built in 1798 on Park Row in Manhattan and was New York City’s premiere performance space in the early 19th Century. It attracted a diverse audience with each class sitting in its preferred section. Working class men sat in the pit; members of the upper class and women in the boxes; the least affluent sat or stood in the balcony. These included immigrants, people of color, and prostitutes.

Maggie Mitchell (1832-1918) has been described as a pioneering example of "the personality actress," a performer whose onstage persona was almost indistinguishable from her image offstage. ( The History of North American Theater). She was born Margaret Julia Mitchell in New York City. As a young girl, she performed in silent roles before making her speaking debut as Julia in The Soldier's Daughter in 1851. Petite and curly haired, with a childlike energy, she was often cast in sentimental comedies and in male or “tomboy” roles, including the title role in a stage adaptation of Oliver Twist. Mitchell's sprightly charm sparked what would later be called a "Maggie Mitchell craze" in Cleveland, Ohio, and she eventually became one of the most celebrated actresses of her era. She appeared in Jane Eyre, Little Barefoot, The Pearl of Savoy, and other dramas, but her best-known role was as a simple country girl in a comedy called Fanchon, the Cricket, adapted from George Sand's story "La Petite Fadette." She made her debut as Fanchon in the early 1860s and continued to perform the part, along with her trademark “shadow dance,” until she was in her fifties. Abraham Lincoln, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow were said to be among her admirers. Maggie Mitchell retired from the theater in 1892.

This lithograph was produced by Henry Atwell Thomas. Henry Atwell Thomas (1834-1904) was an artist, portrait painter, and lithographer especially well known for his theatrical portraits. His New York firm was called H. A. Thomas Lith. Studio until 1887, when it became H. A. Thomas & Wylie Lithographic (sometimes cited as Lithography or Lithographing) Company.

The collection contains a duplicate of this same print.

Date Made: n.d.

Depicted: Mitchell, Margaret JuliaMaker: Thomas, Henry Atwell

Location: Currently not on view

Place Made: United States: New York, New York City

Subject: AdornmentTheater


See more items in: Home and Community Life: Domestic Life, Advertising, Art, Peters Prints, Domestic Furnishings


Exhibition Location:

Credit Line: Harry T. Peters "America on Stone" Lithography Collection

Data Source: National Museum of American History

Id Number: DL.60.3049Catalog Number: 60.3049Accession Number: 228146

Object Name: chromolithographObject Type: Chromolithograph

Physical Description: paper (overall material)ink (overall material)Measurements: image: 24 in x 18 1/4 in; 60.96 cm x 46.355 cm


Record Id: nmah_325310

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.

If you would like to know how you can use content on this page, see the Smithsonian's Terms of Use. If you need to request an image for publication or other use, please visit Rights and Reproductions.