This doting mother in picturesque dress and her angelic offspring are two of many such figures that Bouguereau painted with an eye to the international market. The scene is highly similar in subject and composition to Breton Brother and Sister, also dated 1871 (hanging nearby), and both works were bought by New York collectors—a testament to the popularity that the artist’s scenes of "princesses dressed up as milkmaids" enjoyed in America.
Inscription: Signed and dated (lower right): W-BOVGVEREAV-1871
[Goupil, Paris, 1871–72; stock no. 6009; purchased from the artist, as "La Toilette (Italienne et son enfant)," on December 23, 1871, for Fr 8,000; sold on April 27, 1872, for Fr 17,000, to Knoedler]; [M. Knoedler, New York, from 1872]; Mrs. J. T. Pyle, New York (from the 19th century); her daughter, Zene Montgomery Pyle (until d. 1993)
Ch[arles]. Vendryes. Catalogue illustré des oeuvres de W. Bouguereau. Paris, 1885, p. 46, as "Jeune Mère contemplant son enfant".
Marius Vachon. W. Bouguereau. Paris, 1900, p. 150, as "Jeune mère contemplant son enfant".
Gary Tinterow. "Recent Acquisitions, A Selection: 1993–1994." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 52 (Fall 1994), p. 47, ill., comments that Bouguereau continued to paint Raphaelesque images of women and children in spite of the Franco-Prussian War, adding that "the resolute calm projected by this picture seems to be his response to the chaos in the streets of France".
Damien Bartoli with Frederick Ross. William Bouguereau. Vol. 1, His Life and Works. New York, 2010, colorpl. 102.
Damien Bartoli with Frederick Ross. William Bouguereau. Vol. 2, Catalogue Raisonné of his Painted Work. New York, 2010, pp. 139, 365, no. 1871/18, ill. (color), call it "Le lever (Getting Up)"; note that the artist listed it as "Italienne et son enfant" in his accounts.