A Little Girl Nursing a Kitten

© Victoria and Albert Museum, London

A Little Girl Nursing a Kitten by James Northcote (1746-1831)
England, signed and dated 1795, Museum no. 345-1886
Oil on canvas, bequeathed by Madeleine Antoinette Godchaux, on loan from the Victoria and Albert Museum

A Little Girl Nursing a Kitten is an example of an eighteenth century ‘fancy picture’. These were pleasing or entertaining pictures of a sentimental nature which usually featured women, children and/or animals. Here the little girl’s satin dress, pink cheeks and neatly positioned red shoes create a sweet palette in contrast to the blue and green landscape behind.

James Northcote studied under the artist Joshua Reynolds but never quite reached the same levels of popularity and commercial success as his master. Throughout his career, Northcote turned to many different painting genres including portraiture, literary themes, history paintings and animal painting.

You can see this painting in the Childhood Galleries at the Museum of Childhood.