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Pierre Olivier Joseph Coomans - Girl and Doll

Pierre Olivier Joseph Coomans (1816-1889), Belgian
Girl and Doll, 1882
OIL ON CANVAS, 32 x 25 3/4 inches
Gift of Mrs. Theodora Willard Best

Coomans' depiction of a young girl and her doll illustrates a common theme in later nineteenth-century European and American art. Childhood and play became subjects of particular interest during the period, studied in terms of their significance to personal development and education. This little girl's mischievous streak is represented by the wallet in the foreground, presumably her father's, which she has gone through in search of materials with which to decorate her doll's hair. The scenery is also of particular note, because it offers a glimpse of the rich colors, varied fabrics and patterns, and other bric-a-brac from around the world that filled Victorian homes at about the same time that the Athenaeum and its art collection were built.