The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler

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Jean-Baptiste Greuze, 1725-1805

Nationality: French
Date of Birth: 1725.08.21
Place of Birth: Tournus
Date of Death: 1805.03.21
Place of Death: Paris


Jean-Baptiste Greuze was a French painter and draughtsman. He married Anne-Gabrielle Babuti, the daughter of a wealthy Parisian bookseller, on 3 February 1759 at St Médard. They had three daughters, one of whom died in infancy.


Greuze's reputation was founded on his sentimental and moralistic genre paintings and on his portraits and expressive heads. He was elected an associate member of the Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture in Paris in 1755. His work lost favour towards the end of his life but saw a revival in popularity in the second half of the nineteenth century with critics such as Théophile Thoré, Arsène Houssaye and Edmond and Jules de Goncourt espousing his cause. By the end of the century his works were reaching high prices in auction.

As an art student in Paris Whistler was granted permission on 3 November 1857 to copy Greuze's La Cruche cassée in the Louvre. Whistler's Symphony in White, No. I: The White Girl (YMSM 38) was compared by Jules Antoine Castagnary to Greuze's The Broken Pitcher, (see Copy after Greuze's 'La Cruche cassée' (YMSM 14)).


De Goncourt, E., and J. de Goncourt, L'Art du dix-huitième siècle, Paris, 1880; Martin, J., and C. Masson, Catalogue raisonné de l'oeuvre peint et dessiné de J.-B. Greuze, Paris, 1908; Brookner, A., Greuze: The Rise and Fall of an Eighteenth-century Phenomenon, London, 1972; Munhall, E., Jean-Baptiste Greuze, 1725-1805, Hartford, 1976-7; Munhall, Edgar, 'Jean-Baptiste Greuze', The Grove Dictionary of Art Online, ed. L. Macy, (accessed 21 March 2002).