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 a three-quarter length portrait of a man standing outdoors, letter in one hand, cane in the other. Dressed in a fitted jacket, bow tie and patterned vest. In the left background is a stone monument with gothic arches that is topped by a two handled covered metal cup decoated with a pierced pattern.
The print was produced by the lithography firm of Kelloggs & Thayer. Kelloggs and Thayer was the first partnership formed by Elijah Chapman and Edmund Burke Kellogg after they took over the family firm from their brother Daniel Wright Kellogg. Horace Thayer was a map dealer. In 1845 or 1846, the partnership opened a shop in New York. The partnership was short-lived however and appears to have dissolved in 1847. In 1848, the Kellogg brothers formed a new partnership with John Chenevard Comstock.