The Young Schoolmistress

Image credit: The National Gallery, London

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A young child is being taught by an older girl, perhaps in her early teens, who is possibly an elder sister or another relation such as a cousin. Despite the picture’s title, this is a private lesson, probably taking place at home rather than at school. The younger child is most likely a boy, although we cannot be entirely sure. The chidren appear to be from a middle-class family, which is well provided for but not ostentatiously wealthy. They belong, perhaps, to the growing French bourgeoisie that particularly admired Chardin’s pictures, which they often knew and owned as engravings of the original paintings. This class particularly valued education, especially literacy, which was no longer confined to the nobility and professional classes.

The National Gallery, London



The Young Schoolmistress


probably 1735-6


Oil on canvas


H 61.6 x W 66.7 cm

Accession number


Acquisition method

Bequeathed by Mrs Edith Cragg, as part of the John Webb Bequest, 1925

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The National Gallery, London

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