Jean Baptiste Greuze (Tournus 1725-1825 Paris)
Jean Baptiste Greuze (Tournus 1725-1825 Paris)

The head of a young woman wearing a bonnet and facing left

Jean Baptiste Greuze (Tournus 1725-1825 Paris)
The head of a young woman wearing a bonnet and facing left
11 7/8 x 9 5/8 in. (30 x 23.8 cm.)
Anonymous sale; Sotheby's Parke Bernet, New York, 20 October 1970, lot 50.
with Seiferheld-Selz Fine Arts Inc., New York.
P. Grate, French Paintings II: Eighteenth Century, Stockholm, 1994, pp. 160-161, under no. 149, ref. 2.
New York, Nassau County Museum of Art, Faces and Figures, 1997.

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Lot Essay

A rare pastel portrait by the artist, traditionally considered to be of the artist's wife. The woman's distinctive pose and bonnet is repeated in several works by Greuze.

Grate describes the present pastel as of 'considerable freshness and brilliance' (Grate, op. cit., p. 160). A slightly larger oil on canvas portrait of the same woman in the same pose is in the Nationalmuseum, Stockholm (36 x 27 cm.; Inv. NM 2107; Grate, op. cit., p. 160). Grate lists two red chalk chalk preliminary studies, another painted version at the Musée des Beaux-Arts, Besançon (Inv. 847.4.1) as well as an oil sketch of a full-length view of the servant girl (fig. 1; Marseille, Musée-Grobet-Labadié).
All these works seem to be related to a composition entitled Les offres deshonnêtes (The improper proposal). The finished composition is known only through a drawing (private collection; Grate, op. cit., p. 161, ref. 4) where the young servant girl's face is in profile, rather than in three-quarter view looking over her shoulder as it is in the pastel and the other related works.

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