20 (Breeskin 32)
Peasant Girl
Alternate title(s): Head of a Young Girl
c. 1873--74
Oil on panel
12 3/4 x 9 1/4 in. (32.38 x 23.5 cm)
Unsigned
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Gift of Walter Gay, 27.497

provenance / ownership history
The artist
to Alfred Q. Collins
to Walter Gay, Paris
to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 1927

exhibition history
1978 MFA Boston: #2, as Head of a Young Girl

published references
Sweet 1966: p. 18, as Head of a Young Girl
Boston MFA 1969: p. 45; p. 298, fig. 471, ill., as Head of a Young Girl
Hale, N. 1975: p. 47, as "study"
Mathews 1987: p. 30; p. 31, ill., as Head of a Young Girl
Mathews 1992: n.p., pl. 1, ill., as Head of a Young Girl
Constantino 1995: p. 22, ill., as Head of a Young Girl
Gruitrooy 1996: p. 7, ill., as Head of a Young Girl

commentary

Peasant 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.

According to notes in the files of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Peasant Girl once bore a label that read, "Mary Cassatt/given to Alfred Q. Collins by Miss Cassatt in 1878 and by him given to Walter Gay." Alfred Quinton Collins (1855–1903) was a Boston-born artist who studied in Paris with the painter Léon Bonnat and exhibited at the Salon of 1880. Cassatt may have given this sketch and Small Profile Head of a Girl to Collins in exchange for one or more of his works.

Walter Gay (1856–1937), to whom Collins gave Peasant Girl, was originally from Massachusetts and moved to Paris where he studied with Bonnat from 1877 to 1880. Gay remained a resident of France for the rest of his life, exhibiting at the Salon every year from 1879 to 1895 and then for the last time in 1899. He helped the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, to acquire a number of works of art, and when he donated Peasant Girl in 1927 (perhaps in honor of the artist's recent death), the picture became the first work by Cassatt to enter the museum's collection.

PAI

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keywords:
 portrait
 peasant
 girl
 looking right
 white
 dress
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