La Petite Pensee

  • Thomas Ball, La Petite Pensee, modeled ca. 1867, marble, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase, 1973.56

Luce Center Label

Thomas Ball’s eight-year-old niece, Annie Chickering, posed for this sculpture in the late 1860s. The figure appears deep in thought, gazing down at the pansies and lilies on her bodice. The title of the piece is likely a pun combining the words “pansy” and pensée, which means “thought.” The sculpture also illustrates a line from act 4 of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, in which Ophelia says to Laertes: “. . . and there is pansies, that’s for thoughts.”

Luce Object Quote

“. . . the little head ‘La Petite Pensée’ . . . has had such a wonderful success.” Thomas Ball, My Fourscore Years

Title
La Petite Pensee
Artists
Date
modeled ca. 1867
On View
Dimensions
15 5/8 x 12 7/8 x 8 3/4 in. (39.7 x 32.7 x 22.2 cm)
Credit Line

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Museum purchase

Mediums
Classifications
Keywords
  • State of being – mood – meditation
  • Figure female – child – bust
Object Number
1973.56
Palette
Linked Open Data
Linked Open Data URI