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Jean-Baptiste Greuze, 'A Girl', about 1765-80

Key facts
Full title A Girl
Artist Jean-Baptiste Greuze
Artist dates 1725 - 1805
Date made about 1765-80
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 47 × 39.4 cm
Acquisition credit Wynn Ellis Bequest, 1876
Inventory number NG1019
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
A Girl
Jean-Baptiste Greuze

A young girl in three-quarters view looks up and out of the picture to the left. Her transparent shawl, known as a fichu, covers one shoulder but has fallen off the other. Her white muslin dress is only loosely held up over her chest, an effect enhanced by her bodice having come undone. There was a fashion in France at the time for such dresses and for clothes to be worn ‘naturally’. The palette, dominated by shades of white and grey, is warmed by the rose shades of her cheeks, lips and ear.

The picture may look like a portrait but is probably a genre painting – an image of a type. In 1878 and 1879 it was the second most frequently copied old master painting in the entire Gallery, and in 1881 it was the first. This explains why there are so many anonymous copies of it.

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