A Breton Girl
by Charles Sprague Pearce


  • Country of origin: United States

  • Medium: Oil on canvas

  • Signed: Signed lower right

  • Dated: c. 1890

  • Condition: Excellent

  • Size: 22.00" x 18.50" (55.9cm x 47.0cm)

  • Provenance: Maxwell Galleries - San Francisco c. 1970

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Artwork Biography

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Charles Sprague Pearce studied at the Brimmer School and the Boston Latin School, then in 1873 went to Paris and studied under Léon Bonnat. In the winter of 1873 Pearce travelled to Egypt and in 1874-1875 to Algiers. He settled on a farm in Auvers-sur-Oise in France, and was a leading American expatriate artist in Paris, along with artists such as J.S. Sargent. Pearce often painted genre subjects and historical narratives, sometimes of biblical subjects, such as his oil Lamentations over the Death of the First-Born of Egypt (1877), and Decapitation of John the Baptist. He also painted scenes from rural life in northern France, as in Water Carrier, and Oriental scenes, such as Woman with Fan, which shows a European women in a kimono with a Japanese fan.


Pearce was made Chevalier of the Order of King Leopold, Belgium (1886); and a Chevalier of the Légion d'Honneur, France (1894). He served on the jury of the Universal Exposition in Paris in 1889, chaired the Paris advisory committee for the World Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893, and chaired the Paris committee for the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St Louis in 1904. He organised the first large-scale exhibition of American art in Belgium for the 1894 Antwerp World Fair.


Group Exhibitions


1876, Centennial Exhibition, Philadelphia

from 1876, Salon des Artistes Français, Paris (honourable mention in 1881 and third-class meda in 1883)

1878, 1881, Boston (silver medals)

1884, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia (gold medal for best figure picture)

1885, Philadelphia Academy (Temple Gold Medal)

1889, Universal Exposition, Paris

1890, Annual Exhibition, National Academy of Design, New York

1890, 60th Annual Exhibition, Pennsylvania Academy

1897, International Art Exhibition, Dresden, German

1983, Sunset to Dawn, Richard York Gallery, New York

1989, Paris 1889: American Artists at the Universal Exposition, Pennsylvania Academy (travelling exhibition)

1997, An American View of Paris (Un Régard Américain sur Paris), Musée d'Art Américain, Giverny, France

1997, American Art from the Dicke Collection, Dayton Art Institute

2003, The People Work: American Perspectives, 1840-1940, Terra Museum of American Art, Chicago

2006, Americans in Paris 1860-1900, National Gallery, London (also presented at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York)

Solo Exhibitions


1993, A Rare Elegance: The Paintings of Charles Sprague Pearce, Jordan-Volpe Gallery, New York

Museum and Gallery Holdings


Chicago (AI): The Beheading of John the Baptist

Chicago (Terra Foundation for American Art Collection): Evening (Auvers-sur-Oise) (c. 1880, oil on canvas)

Framingham, MA (Danforth MA): A Village Funeral in Brittany (1891, oil on canvas)

New York (Metropolitan Mus. of Art): Meditation; The Arab Jeweller (c. 1882, oil on canvas)

Philadelphia (Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art): Fantasie (c. 1883, oil on canvas)

Washington DC (National Portrait Gallery): Paul Wayland Bartlett (c. 1890, oil on canvas)

Washington DC (Smithsonian American AM): Lamentations over the Death of the First-Born of Egypt (1877, oil on canvas)