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Paysanne française: M.3-1927

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Object information

Current Location: In storage


Paysanne française
Translated as: French peasantwoman
(French peasantwoman)


Sculptor: Dalou, Aimé-Jules




Terracotta, in the round. The mother has bared her left breast and the child is feeding. She wears a coif on her head, a frilled bodice, long skirt mainly covered by an apron, and clogs. She is sitting on an upturned wickerwork basket.

Legal notes

Bequeathed by Sir Sidney Colvin, through the National Art Collections Fund

Measurements and weight

Depth: 27.5 cm
Height: 49 cm
Width: 26 cm

Acquisition and important dates

Method of acquisition: Bequeathed (1927) by Colvin, Sidney


19th Century, Late-20th Century, Early#
After 1872 CE - Before 1902 CE


A fervent socialist, Dalou was forced to flee to London in 1871 following his involvement with the Paris Commune and, ironically, was adopted by the English court and aristocracy.

During his nine-year exile in England, Dalou produced a series of statuettes of women from across the classes in a style of gentle realism, which commented on the highly stratified nature of modern society. Many were exhibited at The Royal Academy, including an earlier version of this group, which shows a French peasant girl seated on an upturned basket, suckling her child. Despite its humble subject-matter, the composition became immediately popular and was reproduced in different sizes and materials, including bronze, marble, and biscuit porcelain by the Sèvres factory. It was also circulated as an engraving, which was copied by Vincent Van Gogh.

This terracotta is a reduced-size version of the original 'Paysanne Française' shown at the Royal Academy in 1873, and now in the Victoria and Albert Museum. Two more large versions are known, one also in the Victoria and Albert Museum and another in the Hermitage, St Petersburg. The Fitzwilliam's is one of several reduced-size terracottas. It was accessioned as 'Maternity', but the work was known in the 19th century as 'Paysanne Française'.

People, subjects and objects depicted


  • Sculpture UK

Materials used in production


Inscription or legends present

  • Text: DALOU
  • Location: On its proper left side
  • Method of creation: Incised
  • Type: Signature

References and bibliographic entries

Related exhibitions

Identification numbers

Accession number: M.3-1927
Primary reference Number: 29862
External ID: CAM_CCF_M_3_1927
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Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Thursday 18 August 2022 Last processed: Thursday 7 December 2023

Associated departments & institutions

Owner or interested party: The Fitzwilliam Museum
Associated department: Applied Arts

Citation for print

This record can be cited in the Harvard Bibliographic style using the text below:

The Fitzwilliam Museum (2024) "Paysanne française" Web page available at: Accessed: 2024-02-20 23:48:54

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{{cite web|url= |title=Paysanne française |author=The Fitzwilliam Museum|accessdate=2024-02-20 23:48:54|publisher=The University of Cambridge}}

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