William A. Bouguereau
(1825 - 1905)
Oil on canvas
25 1/4 x 16 inches
Goupil & Co., Paris, May 13, 1867, No 2820, ff1500.
M. Knoedler & Co., New York, December 26, 1867
Private collection, USA
Private collection, New York, c.1970
Rehs Galleries, Inc., New York, 2006
Private collection, Florida, 2006
Rehs Galleries, Inc., New York, 2009
Private collection, 2009
On loan to the St. Petersburg Museum of Art, St. Petersburg, Florida from 2006 - 2009.
Carnets de comptes de William Bouguereau sous le titre de
Petite Bretonne (réduction)
Brouillards des établissements Goupil: le 13 mai 1867, sous le numéro 2820 et sous le titre de
Jeune fille bretonne (réduction)
Mark Steven Walker:
William BOUGUEREAU - A Summary Catalogue of the Paintings
, Borghi & Co; NYC; 1991. p. 67, sous le titre de
William Bouguereau Catalogue Raisonné of his Painted Works
, Damien Bartoli, Antique Collectors' Club, New York City, 2010, pages 95, illustrated (1867/02A)
Damien Bartoli provided the following information about this work:
The idea for this composition came to Bouguereau while he was traveling in 1866 around Rosporden in Brittany. There he spotted a young village girl, seated on her doorstep and lost in thought, and he conceived of the present composition then and there. Her headdress was typical of those worn in the Finistère in the southwest of Brittany, and, more precisely, in the town of Rosporden. Brittany was well-known for its traditional costumes, and each village distinguished itself by individual elements of dress.
The artist was touched by what he saw, and he captured it in one of the sketch books that he often carried. The small drawing that Bouguereau executed is part of Sketchbook 14 (private collection). This drawing was made with thick pencil and is titled
Chilled in Rosporden
The current title,
, was added later, probably long after the consignment of the painting to the artist's dealer, Goupil. The work was first registered in the Goupil inventory under the name
Jeune fille bretonne
, but a few years later Vendryes and Vachon both listed it as
, following instructions given by William Bouguereau himself.
Though Yvonne was also the name of a girl from La Rochelle, who became one of the artist's favorite models, in this case the title merely reflects the fact that Yvonne was the most popular first name in Brittany at the time, and Yvonnette the name's diminutive form.
This painting is a réduction of the larger version of the work, which measures 51 1/2 x 33 1/2 inches (private collection). In the early part of his career, William Bouguereau frequently painted smaller versions of his best and his most popular paintings. Durand-Ruel, and later Goupil, requested them for the purposes of making prints. The convenient size of these smaller works enabled the engraver or the lithographer to work more easily than did the much larager canvases that were often bound for the Salon. However, no engraving of this work is known.
The larger painting was completed in April 1867 and the present canvas followed immediately. Bouguereau painted réductions only while he still had access to the original painting so that he might honor scrupulously the spirit and shape of the original. This réduction differs from many others, as it is clear that Bouguereau worked alone, without workshop assistance; the perfection of both line and color attest that this is the sole effort of the master.