Born to an Amsterdam family of musicians and artists, Christina Chalon (1749–1808) started drawing at an early age, studying with painter Sara Troost (1732–1803) and, later, printmaker, collector, and art theorist Cornelis Ploos van Amstel (1726–1798). Both stylistically and in terms of subject matter, Chalon’s creative output belongs to the tradition of peasant genre scenes popularized by such seventeenth-century Dutch artists as Adriaen Brouwer (ca. 1605–1638) and Adrian van Ostade (1610–1685). Working a century later, Chalon turned her attention away from the drinking, brawling, and dice-playing peasants, which dominated those boisterous works, focusing, instead, on figures engaged in everyday tasks in quiet domestic interiors and other rural settings. Sensitively observed interactions between adults and children–playing, learning to walk, or tugging at their mother’s skirt–are a recurrent theme in her work.
Containing 106 drawings by her hand and seventeen etchings after her designs, the Morgan volume was put together during Chalon’s lifetime by Isaac van Buren, Bailiff of Noordwijkerhout, Hillegom, Lisse, and Voorhout. It is likely the largest single collection of Chalon’s work known today. The drawings are organized in three sections, allowing viewers to trace the development of Chalon’s draftsmanship over the course of her life. The first part (fols. 1–4) contains ten examples of Chalon’s early work. The earliest among these includes, on the verso, an inscription in Van Buren’s hand, dating the drawing to 1754, when the artist was only five years old (fol. 1). These early sheets are followed by twenty-five works in pen and ink and, occasionally, gray and brown washes (fols. 5–18). The final and largest section comprises a selection of seventy-one highly finished watercolor studies, showcasing the artist’s great affinity for and skill in this medium. As is typical of Chalon’s work, nearly all of the drawings are signed using either the artist’s initials (“C: C: f:”) or her full name (“Chrᵃ: Chalon f:”).
Several of Chalon's compositions in the Morgan album were etched by the Leiden printmakers Nicolaas van der Worm (1757–1828) and Johannes Christianus Janson (1763–1823). The prints are interspersed in the album with the drawings they reproduce.