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Elizabeth Nourse
Fisher Girl of Picardy
1889
oil
46 3/4 x 32 3/8 in.
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Elizabeth Pilling



This coarse-featured peasant girl and her little brother stand atop a dune. She wears a sand-colored skirt, and her reddened face, arms, and hands betray her hardy, outdoor existence. Heroically posed to resemble a ship's figurehead, the fisher girl is noble, strong, protective, and independent.

An expatriate who spent most of her life in France, Nourse was intensely religious. She cared deeply about her models, helping them and their families in any way she could. Such charity is reflected in this work, with its monumentality and human insight.