The J. Paul Getty Museum

Cimon and Pero: "Roman Charity"

Object Details


Cimon and Pero: "Roman Charity"


Jean-Baptiste Greuze (French, 1725 - 1805)




France (Place Created)


about 1767


Oil on canvas

Object Number:



65.4 × 81.4 cm (25 3/4 × 32 1/16 in.)

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Object Description

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 presented Pero's selfless devotion 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.

- 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, Gaspare Spontini (or Sputini), 1832.
Note: "La charité romaine. Toile."

1832 -

possibly Gaspare Spontini (or Sputini), Italian, 1774 - 1851

- 1838

probably Prince Scherbatoff [sold, Bonnefons Delavialle, Paillet, 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.]

Greuze the Painter: Los Angeles Works in Context (September 10 to December 1, 2002)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), September 10 to December 1, 2002

Lacoste, Coutelier, Paris. Supplement to Catalogue des tableaux italiens, flamands, hollandais, et français des anciennes écoles, qui composent la magnifique galerie de feu M. le Chevalier Erard [...] [April 23, 1832]. August 7-14, 1832, unpaginated, lot 220.

Delavialle, Paillet, Paris. Catalogue de tableaux capitaux des écoles flamande, hollandaise, italienne et française, provenant en partie du cabinet du Prince Russie [...]. March 6-7, 1838, p. 22, lot 68.

Pillet, Féral, Paris. Tableaux anciens & modernes; Beaux panneaux décoratifs. May 24, 1873, p. 10, lot 34.

Mauclair, Camille. Catalogue raisonné de l'oeuvre peint et dessiné de Jean-Baptiste Greuze [...] (Paris: H. Piazza, 1905), p. 18, no. 226.

Martin, Jean. Oeuvre de J.- B. Greuze: Catalogue raisonné suivi de la liste des gravures exécutées d'après ses ouvrages (Paris: H. Piazza, 1905; repr., Paris: G. Rapilly, 1908), p. 18, no. 226.

Franqueville, Amable Charles comte de. Le château de la Muette (Paris: Librairie Hachette, 1915), p. 238.

Sotheby's, New York. Important Old Master Paintings. May 28, 1999, pp. 178-79, lot 146, ill.

Sotheby's Art at Auction (1998-1999), p. 46, ill.

Bailey, Colin B. Jean-Baptiste Greuze: The Laundress (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Trust, 2000), pp. 8-9, fig. 5.

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

Munhall, Edgar. Greuze the Draftsman, exh. cat. (New York: The Frick Collection, 2002), p. 186, under no. 65, ill., entry by Edgar Munhall.

Lemoine, Annick, and Mickaël Szanto. "Greuze face à la peinture d'histoire. Genèse et réception du Septime Sévère." In Greuze et l'affaire du Septime Sévère, exh. cat. (Tournus: Musée Greuze, 2005), pp. 26-27, fig. 7.

Fort, Bernadette. "The Sketch as Transgression: Greuze's 'Roman Charity'." In The Ruin and the Sketch in the Eighteenth Century. Peter Wagner, Frédéric Ogée, Robert Mankin, and Achim Hescher, eds. (Trier: Wissenschaftlicher Verlag, 2008), pp. 156-74, fig. 1.

Barker, Emma. "Reading the Greuze Girl: The Daughter's Seduction." Representations 117, no. 1 (Winter 2012), pp. 105-6, fig. 9.