Kept In

Kept In
In the 1880s, Henry and his wife moved to the town of Cragsmoor, located in the Catskill Mountains of upstate New York, where he founded an artists’ colony. Cragsmoor attracted Henry because of its beauty and its quaint rural characters. He often sketched his neighbors at work and play and used them to add charm and realism to his pictures. The frequency with which the little girl in the red dress appears in Henry’s paintings, sketches, and watercolors suggests that he painted her from life and saw her regularly around town. In Kept In, Henry has positioned her as a lone figure sitting sorrowfully inside an empty schoolhouse while her classmates play outdoors. Clearly, the school is integrated, a choice that some New York school districts made. The child’s discarded textbook and slate, wistful but sullen expression, and worn attire divulge Henry’s nineteenth-century attitudes toward African Americans. Is he suggesting that she should be studying but has discarded her books? Is he suggesting that she was “kept in” because of bad behavior or poor schoolwork? Is he showing the social separation between those outdoors, one of whom appears to be African American, and the black child indoors? The answer to these questions is left to the viewer. -Gretchen Sullivan Sorin, Director of the Cooperstown Graduate Program, SUNY Oneonta
Physical dimensions: 
depth 2.5 in ; height 18.5 in ; width 22.75 in