“Paint as you see, and be accurate in your drawing,” was the advice of William Bouguereau, an academic painter with a “photo-idealist” style. Indeed, the studio models in this painting – two children in country clothing – are depicted with virtuoso minuteness. But the realism stops there. Although the life-size scale of the girls is a concession to the realism of the period, this image is neither a pitiful plea for the peasantry nor a glorification of country life. For sheer love of the beautiful, Bouguereau idealizes his subjects. These sweet little bucolic faces are imbued with a contemporary nostalgia for the happiness of the countryside and a stock-in-trade picturesqueness that wealthy American buyers appreciated in the paintings of this “pompier” artist, honoured during his lifetime, forgotten and then discovered once again.