Head of a Child

Style of Jacques Louis David (French, first quarter 19th century)

Oil on canvas
15 3/4 x 12 5/8 in. (40 x 32.1 cm)
Credit Line:
Bequest of Harry G. Sperling, 1971
Accession Number:
  • Catalogue Entry

    The Sabine Women (Musée du Louvre, Paris) by Jacques Louis David (1748–1825) was evidently painted between the spring of 1796 and the autumn of 1799. It is signed and dated in the latter year. David showed the work to paying visitors in a room in the Louvre previously assigned to the Académie d’Architecture from December 1799 through May 1805 and he also exhibited it for brief periods in the Salon of 1808, in 1810, and in his studio in 1814. It seems most likely that this oil sketch after the child in the center foreground of the picture was made by an artist who was a visitor to one of these venues.


  • Provenance

    [Ambroselli, Paris, until 1968; as by Jacques-Louis David; sold for $3,500 to Kleinberger]; [Kleinberger, New York, 1968–71; as "Study for Sabine Women"; half share exchanged with Ambroselli]; [Kleinberger, New York, and Ambroselli, Paris, 1971–75; bequeathed by Harry G. Sperling, last surviving partner of Kleinberger, to MMA]

  • References

    Antoine Schnapper. Letter to Mary Ann Wurth Harris. May 12, 1976, states that the attribution to David seems plausible.

    Pierre Rosenberg. Letter to Mary Ann Harris. June 22, 1977, as not by David.

  • Notes

    Lot 284 in the Walferdin sale (Hôtel Drouot, Paris, April 10–11, 1880) was a pen-and-ink drawing of a head of a child said to have been made by David for his picture of the Sabines (“Étude d’Enfant, pour son tableau des Sabines. Dessin à la plume. H., 0m, 20. L., 0m, 46”).

    Louis Hautecoeur in "Louis David," Paris, 1954, p. 180, claims the model for one of the children in the Louvre picture was "le petit Paganol, fils du conventionnel qui devint Maître de Requêtes au Conseil d'État."

  • See also
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History