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Probably by Jean-Baptiste Perronneau, A Girl with a Kitten

Key facts
Full title A Girl with a Kitten
Artist Probably by Jean-Baptiste Perronneau
Artist dates 1715/16 - 1783
Date made 1743
Medium and support Pastel on blue paper laid down on canvas
Dimensions 59.1 × 49.8 cm
Inscription summary Signed; Dated
Acquisition credit Presented by Sir Joseph Duveen, 1921
Inventory number NG3588
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
A Girl with a Kitten
Probably by Jean-Baptiste Perronneau

This little girl, who has not been identified, has been posed by the artist, and the kitten by the girl. A cat is sometimes included in portraits of children as a symbol of the wildness of nature intruding upon the innocence of childhood.

The picture is probably a portrait, albeit an idealised one, rather than a genre scene. Although it bears the artist’s signature and the date 1745, some question whether A Girl with a Kitten is indeed by Perronneau. The pigments in the pastels, the canvas and the paper are all consistent with a work produced in the eighteenth century, yet the draughtsmanship and sense of anatomy seem unusually poor for Perronneau at this stage of his career. However, some skilled parts are consistent with his technique and the signature is of the same date as the rest of the image.

Despite these uncertainties, this remains one of the most popular pastels in our collection.

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