La petite couturière by Jules Breton - 22 x 16 7/8 inches Signed and dated 1858 19th century french realist genre interior peasant sewing
Jules Breton
(1827 - 1906)

La petite couturière

Signed and dated 1858
Oil on canvas
22 x 16 7/8 inches

The Seamstress was originally exhibited at the Paris Salon in 1859 and was purchased by the National Lottery Commission for ff1500 on April 20, 1859. The painting, according to Professor Gabriel P. Weisberg, is a very unusual work as single figure compositions, set in an interior, were very rare in Breton's entire work. It is an intimate study of his young wife performing a traditional activity. The painting establishes the theme of the simple dignity of family life as being essential for Breton even early on in his career.

Professor Weisberg first encountered the work in the collection of Pasteur Bertrand, Paris where he kept it in his simple apartment. Hence, he appreciated the simple truths of the work and the piety of the figure was important to him. [In addition] the painting was singled out by members of the Second Empire administration for use in a public ceremony because, to them, the painting also extolled the virtues of a pious existence where family was valued above everything else.


Provenance
M. Tesse, Nîmes (possibly acquired through the National Lottery at the Salon of 1859, ff1500)
Pasteur Bertrand, Paris
Private Collector
Myron Kunin, Minneapolis, MN
Rehs Galleries, Inc., New York City
Private collection

Exhibited
Paris, Salon, 1859, no. 412 (as Une couturière)
Arras, Musée des Beaux-Arts, Jules et Emile Breton, peintres de l'Artois,, 1977 (no published catalogue)
The Cleveland Museum of Art; The Brooklyn Museum; The St. Louis Art Museum; Kelvingrove, Glasgow Art Gallery and Museum, The Realist Tradition, French Painting and Drawing, 1830-1900,, November 1980-January 1982, no. 70 as The Seamstress (lent from a Private collection, Paris)

Literature
Zacharie Astruc, Les 14 Stations, Paris, 1859, pp. 226-7
Louis Auvray, Exposition des beaux-arts: Salon de 1859, Paris, p. 41
Ernest Chesneau, Le Salon de 1859, Paris, 1859, p. 56
Maxime du Camp, Le Salon de 1859, Paris, 1859, p. 39
Alexandre Dumas, Le Salon de 1859, Paris, 1859, pp. 54-5
Henri Dumesnil, Le Salon de 1859, Paris, 1859, p. 34
Marius Chaumelin, Portraits d'artistes, E. Meissonier, J. Breton, Paris, 1887, p. 91
Hustin, L'Estafete, November 1, 1888
E. B. de Lépinois, L'art dans la rue de l'art au Salon, Paris, 1859, p. 149
Paul Mantz, "Salon de 1859," Gazette des Beaux-Arts, June 1859, p. 286
Gabriel P. Weisberg, The Realist Tradition, French Painting and Drawing, 1830-1900,, The Cleveland Museum of Art, 1980, p. 100-101, illustrated p. 100, fig. 70.
Annette Bourrut Lacouture, Jules Breton, Painter of Peasant Life, New Haven, 2002, p. 102, 254, illustrated p. 102, fig. 63