A Portrait of a Young Girl and her Dog
Academic painters in the 19th century aimed for a non-painterly technique and strict pictorial realism. However, their subjects were rarely realistic; instead, they were restricted to history, mythology, religion, and genre subjects like this one. Genre paintings usually focused, not on the everyday lives of bourgeois Europeans, but on more colorful, exotic lives like those of gypsies (Roma), Arabs, or Orientals. The young girl in this photograph is most likely a well-cared-for, middle class child, but has been costumed in ethnic apparel and given the typically gypsy accompaniments of a tambourine and small dog likely to perform tricks for tips. This work is by the leading Belgian female artist of the 1820s to 1840s, Marie Adelaide (Adele) Kindt, part of a remarkable family of notable female artists, including two younger sisters and a sister-in-law. Early in her career, Kindt specialized in historical scenes blending neoclassicism and romanticism. At 21, she won first prize in the Salon at Ghent and received medals at Douai, Cambrai, and Brussels before age 32. However, later in life, her interest shifted to portraits and genre scenes like this one.