The Listening Girl
By Jean Baptiste Greuze

The Listening Girl
By Jean Baptiste Greuze (1725-1805)
In the Wallace Collection, London

Greuze, who was the son of an obscure painter, was born at Tournus, near Macon, in France. He went to Paris and achieved his first successes with pictures of historical subjects. When he was thirty he visited Italy, and not unnaturally was inspired to produce paintings of Italian life after his return.

He is best known to the English public by his paintings of young girls, of which "The Listening Girl" is a good example. They possess an originality which reflects the personal style of the artist so unmistakably that they have become a type. Greuze painted these young girls in different ways, but chiefly restricted himself to their heads and shoulders. Besides possessing a common likeness, they resemble each other closely in style and treatment. He varied the title and he varied the costume, just as he varied the features and the details of colouring, but these were but the necessary variations of a familiar manner. They are alike, as their titles are alike - "The Listening Girl," "Girl with a Gauze Scarf," "Girl in a Blue Dress, " "Girl in a White Dress," "Girl with Doves," and "Girl Leaning on Her Hand" - all of them to be seen and admired in the splendid series of this artist's pictures in the Wallace Collection.

These paintings are curiously paradoxical in certain ways. They are types of tender years and simplicity, painted with a lack of simplicity. They are patterns of immaturity and innocence, revealing voluptuous grace and mature allurements. Yet, because they are accepted as types of feminine innocence, we must pay our tribute to the artist whose charming young women are as delightful to-day, and can be appreciated as much by the people of our time, as during the period when they were painted, before the artist's reputation waned, and he died in poverty and obscurity.

From the book "Famous Paintings" printed in 1913.

Online "Name the Painting"

Jean-Baptiste Greuze
biography at Wikipedia

Jean-Baptiste Greuze

Jean-Baptiste Greuze

Jean-Baptiste Greuze
at Web Museum, Paris

Jean-Baptiste Greuze
paintings at Wikipedia

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