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Exhibit Catalog to the Morris County Historical Society's "Out of the Closet" Exhibition

Roman Peasant Girl

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Francesco Augero
Roman Peasant Girl
Circa 1859
Oil on canvas
32 x 40 in.

The Painting
This oil painting, which was exhibited at the National Academy in New York, is of a young woman in peasant attire holding a bunch of grapes in her right hand. Her other elbow rests on her knee, as she props up her face with her left hand. The subject matter is much like that of William Bouguereau's The Bohemian (1890) and The Shepherdess (1889), in which peasant girls are shown holding the instruments of their work - in The Bohemian, the young woman rests a violin on her lap, while in The Shepherdess, the girl balances a stick between her shoulders. Here the peasant girl is holding a bunch of grapes - perhaps she is involved with the wine-making industry. Or perhaps, since this is an Academic painting and many 19th century Academic painters were interested in all things Classical, her holding the bunch of grapes (a common theme in Classical art) is a look back to the iconography of antiquity.
The richness of color is extraordinary in this painting. Deep earth tones are employed to denote the class of the young woman, as she most likely works outside with her hands. Her posture and lackluster stare suggest that she is bored, either with her work or the fact that she had to sit so long for the painter to take her picture. An odd contradiction is the fact that she is so clearly dressed as a peasant, but her sparkling earrings are those of a wealthy woman.
The Artist: Francesco Augero

Francesco Augero was active in New York City from 1854 to 1870.  He exhibited at the National Academy of Design on Fifth Avenue during the years of 1854, 1859, 1860, and 1865 to 1869 and at the Boston Art Club in 1874.


Roman Peasant Girl was exhibited at the National Academy of Design in 1859.