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Jean-Baptiste Greuze, A Girl

Key facts
Full title A Girl
Artist Jean-Baptiste Greuze
Artist dates 1725 - 1805
Date made about 1800
Medium and support Oil on mahogany
Dimensions 45.7 × 38.1 cm
Acquisition credit Bequeathed by Richard Simmons, 1847
Inventory number NG206
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
A Girl
Jean-Baptiste Greuze

A young woman gazes dreamily out of the picture, but not directly at us. She appears to be outside in a dark woody landscape. She gathers her semi-translucent shawl about her head but does not seem to have noticed that the front of her flimsy muslin dress has fallen down, revealing her left breast. Her soft brown wavy hair is tied loosely about her head with a pink ribbon. Her averted eyes do not challenge the viewer’s own, allowing us freely to view her body, tantalisingly at once concealed and revealed in this dark, secluded setting.

Greuze creates a deliberately ambiguous image, blurring the line between youth and maturity, innocence and sensuality – a characteristic of his expressive heads that was much admired by his contemporaries. The modelling of the girl’s face, her glistening eyes and areas of thick paint on her sleeve are typical of his individual painting style.

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