This picture is one of the last genre scenes that Bonnat produced before he turned exclusively to portraiture. He probably agreed to paint the work for collector Catharine Lorillard Wolfe about 1873. Two years later the painting was delivered to Wolfe’s Madison Avenue brownstone, where it hung in the library, along with her three-quarter-length portrait by Cabanel (87.15.82). In October 1885, soon before she died, Wolfe moved Roman Girl at a Fountain, said to be one of her favorite works, to a specially constructed niche in her dining room.
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Inscription: Signed and dated (lower right): Ln. Bonnat-75.
Catharine Lorillard Wolfe, New York (1875–d. 1887; commissioned from the artist)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Taste of the Seventies," April 2–September 10, 1946, no. 65.
Edward Strahan [Earl Shinn], ed. The Art Treasures of America. Philadelphia, , vol. 1, pp. 133–34, calls it "Young Girl of Albano at the Fountain" in the text and "Girl of Albano at the Fountain" in the list of works in Miss Wolfe's collection.
Cicerone. "Private Galleries: Collection of Miss Catharine L. Wolfe." Art Amateur 2 (March 1880), p. 76.
"The Fine Arts: Recent Gifts to the Metropolitan Museum." Critic (April 16, 1887), p. 194, as "Girl of the Roman Campagna at a Fountain".
Catalogue of the Paintings in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1898, p. 158, no. 528, notes that it was painted to order.
Arthur Hoeber. The Treasures of The Metropolitan Museum of Art of New York. New York, 1899, p. 82.
D[aniel]. Cady Eaton. A Handbook of Modern French Painting. New York, 1909, p. 270, calls it "A Girl at a Fountain".
Léonce Bénédite. "Léon Bonnat (1833–1922)." Gazette des beaux-arts, 5th ser., 7 (January 1923), p. 8, calls it "Petite Romaine à la fontaine".
Josephine L. Allen and Elizabeth E. Gardner. A Concise Catalogue of the European Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1954, p. 10.
Charles Sterling and Margaretta M. Salinger. French Paintings: A Catalogue of the Collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Vol. 2, XIX Century. New York, 1966, pp. 188–89, ill., as "A Roman Girl at a Fountain"; note that when this picture was made, Bonnat was focusing more on portraits than genre paintings; surmise that Wolfe may have suggested the subject matter.
Gary A. Reynolds inWalter Gay: A Retrospective. Exh. cat., Grey Art Gallery and Study Center, New York University. New York, 1980, pp. 21, 27, under no. 9, fig. 8, calls it "Roman Girl at the Fountain" and compares it to Walter Gay's "Young Woman in a Garden" (1878; collection J. V. Hawn).
Katharine Baetjer. European Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art by Artists Born Before 1865: A Summary Catalogue. New York, 1995, p. 448, ill.
Rebecca A. Rabinow. "Catharine Lorillard Wolfe: The First Woman Benefactor of the Metropolitan Museum." Apollo 147 (March 1998), p. 50, fig. 4 (color), calls it one of Wolfe's favorite paintings; remarks that Wolfe probably commissioned it in 1873 and that after it was delivered in 1875, the picture hung in her library.
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