19 (Breeskin 31)
Small Profile Head of a Girl
Alternate title(s): Head of a Girl; Small Profile, Head of a Girl
c. 1873--74
Oil on panel
13 3/4 x 10 1/2 in. (34.92 x 26.67 cm)
Gift of Robert L. Gardner, Class of 1957; Courtesy of the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University

provenance / ownership history
The artist
to Alfred Q. Collins
to Mrs. Alfred Q. Collins
to her brother Forbes Watson of Gaylordsville, Connecticut, by descent
to Agnes (Mrs. Forbes) Watson
to Parke-Bernet, New York, November 30, 1960, #114, as Head of a Girl
Reyn Gallery, New York, by 1962, until at least 1967
Andrew Crispo, New York, by 1968
to Samanthe Gallery, New York, 1968
Robert L. Gardner, New York, by 1975
to the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York

exhibition history
1983 Sunrise: #6, as Small Profile, Head of a Girl, lent by the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art
1985 Nassau NY: no #, as Small Profile Head of a Girl

published references
Sweet 1966: p. 18, as "sketch"
Hale, N. 1975: p. 47, as "study"


Small Profile Head of a Girl is not signed or dated but shares a number of features with works from about 1873–74. It is similar in size, support (wood panel), and dark palette to Portrait of Madame Sisley and Miss Cassatt's Mother in a Lacy Blouse, both dating to 1873, as well as Portrait of Mme Cortier, from 1874.

A letter written by Agnes Patterson Watson in 1960 supplies the early provenance for this work.[1] According to Watson, her husband's family history held that Small Profile Head of a Girl was given to Alfred Quinton Collins (1855–1903) by the artist. Collins, who studied in Paris with the painter Léon Bonnat and exhibited at the Salon of 1880, may have received this painting and Peasant Girl from Cassatt in exchange for one or more of his own works. Small Profile Head of a Girl passed from Collins to his wife and from her to Forbes Watson (1880–1960), her brother. An important art critic for the New York Evening Post and New York World and editor of the Arts, one of the most significant cultural periodicals of the 1920s, Forbes Watson also published the first American monograph on Cassatt, in 1932. His wife, Agnes Patterson Watson (also known as Nan), was herself a painter.


[1] A copy of this letter, dated September 8, 1960, and apparently written to accompany the picture when it was offered at Parke-Bernet on November 30, 1960, exists in the Breeskin archive, Mary Cassatt Catalogue Raisonné Committee, Adelson Galleries, New York, N.Y.

Unidentified photographer, Alfred Q. Collins, c. 1880, 9.8 x 6.7 in. (25 x 17 cm). Forbes Watson papers, Smithsonian Archives of American Art.

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