Look at Mama

Look at Mama

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 mother and child looking at the mother's portrait. The portrait is in an ornate, gold frame. Red drapery and a floral wallpaper are in the background. Both mother and daughter are wearing elegant dresses with ribbons, bows and lace ruffles.
This print was produced by James S Baillie, was active in New York from 1838 to 1855. James Baillie started as a framer in 1838, and then became an artist and lithographer in 1843 or 1844. He discovered how to color lithographs while working as an independent contractor for Currier & Ives in the mid 1840’s. A prolific lithographer and colorist for Currier & Ives; his prints were extremely popular with a wide distribution. J. Baillie spent his later years concentrating on painting instead of lithography.
Currently not on view
Object Name
Object Type
date made
ca 1845
Sowle & Shaw
Baillie, James S.
place made
United States: New York, New York City
Physical Description
hand-colored (image production method/technique)
ink (overall material)
paper (overall material)
image: 11 1/2 in x 8 1/2 in; 29.21 cm x 21.59 cm
overall: 14 in x 10 in; 35.56 cm x 25.4 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
Harry T. Peters "America on Stone" Lithography Collection
See more items in
Home and Community Life: Domestic Life
Clothing & Accessories
Peters Prints
Domestic Furnishings
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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I have a lithograph of the above picture "Look at Mama" and the picture that the woman and child are looking at is located on the left hand side instead of the right. Is it unusual for a lithograph to be made in reverse?
Hi Cindy, If an image is popular, there could have been several versions made. These are often done by the same original artist with different publishers or lithographers. There are also publisher that make modifications to popular selling images for example difference sizes of the same print such as those by Currier and Ives. Another thing to consider is that when a lithographic stone is made it is from a drawing where the image on both the stone and the original drawing would have been in reverse of the image that is eventually printed. When you create the prints the result is a reverse image of the original. Are you sure you have a lithograph and not a hand colored drawing? Debbie Schaefer-Jacobs, Curator of the Harry T. Peters America on Stone Collection Division of Culture and Community Life (formerly Home and Community Life)

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