Dec 10, 2012
Oct 28, 2008

Head of a Young Woman

Head of a Young Woman

c. 1785

Jean-Baptiste Greuze

(French, 1725–1805)

Red chalk on white laid paper pasted down on heavy-weight gray paper

Support: Cream laid paper, laid down on cream laid paper, framing lines in brown ink

Sheet: 41 x 31.5 cm (16 1/8 x 12 3/8 in.)

Bequest of Muriel Butkin 2008.354



This female head relates to a finished drawing by Greuze called The Reconciliation, which shows the return of a husband to his wife after a domestic argument. The artist specialized in scenes of family life, depicted with high drama and theatrical gestures. From narrative scenes such as this, he would often make large red chalk drawings-close-ups in a sense-of the facial expressions of individual figures in the scene. This sheet relates to the head of the wife in The Reconciliation, who turns toward her husband entering at the right. Greuze created and sold such drawings as finished works of art. Like the drawing by Taraval on view nearby, and the sheets by Antoine Coypel and Edgar Degas also on view in this exhibition, this type of work is called an expressive head (tête d'expression), which has a rich tradition in French art.

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