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This is a portrait of a local girl from the village of Cookham in Berkshire, where the artist was living in 1891. Clausen started painting open-air ‘rural naturalist’ subjects from 1880, in imitation of the French painter Jules Bastien-Lepage. His Poor Fauvette of 1881 may have influenced the wide-eyed stare and passive immobility of this girl.

The delicate play of light across the model’s features, together with the flicked Impressionist brushwork in the background, suggest both the freshness and ephemerality of youth.

September 2004