Cimon and Pero: "Roman Charity"

Object Details

Title:

Cimon and Pero: "Roman Charity"

Artist/Maker(s):

Jean-Baptiste Greuze (French, 1725 - 1805)

Culture:

French

Date:

about 1767

Medium:

Oil on canvas

Dimensions:

65.4 x 81.4 cm (25 3/4 x 32 1/16 in.)

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When the aged Cimon was forced to starve in prison before his execution, his devoted daughter Pero secretly visited her father to nourish him at her own breast. In his Memorable Acts and Sayings of the Ancient Romans, the ancient Roman historian Valerius Maximus, Pero's selfless devotion was presented as the highest example of honoring one's parent.

In the 1600s, major artists painted dramatic versions of the popular subject, which Jean-Baptiste Greuze and other artists revived a century later. Closely basing the setting and arrangement of figures on Peter Paul Rubens's version, Greuze probably made this oil sketch as the final stage of preparation for an unexecuted, large-scale painting. Contemporaries admired the rapid execution, vibrant colors, and lively paint handling in Greuze's oil sketches. The critic Denis Diderot lavishly praised his combination of genre and history painting and his public, moralizing purpose.

Provenance
- 1831

possibly Sébastien Erard, 1752 - 1831 (Château de la Muette, Passy, Boulogne, France), by inheritance to his nephew, Pierre-Orphée Erard, 1831.

1831 - 1832

possibly Pierre-Orphée Erard, 1794 - 1855 (Château de la Muette, Passy, Boulogne, France) [unsold, Erard sale, Lacoste, Coutellier, Paris, August 7-14, 1832, lot 220], possibly by inheritance or by gift to his sister's husband, Spontini, 1832.

1832 -

possibly Gaspare Spontini (or Sputini), 1774 - 1851

- 1838

probably Prince Scherbatoff (sold, Paris, March 6-7, 1838, lot 68.)

- 1873

Unknown Collection [sold, Pillet, Féral, Paris, May 24, 1873, lot 34.]

- by 1999

Charles Bailly [sold, Sotheby's, New York, May 28, 1999, lot 146, to the J. Paul Getty Museum.]

Exhibitions
Greuze the Painter: Los Angeles Works in Context (September 10 to December 1, 2002) (No cat.)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), September 10 to December 1, 2002
Bibliography

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Collections. 6th ed. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2001), p. 130, ill.