The Laundress (La Blanchisseuse)

Object Details


The Laundress (La Blanchisseuse)


Jean-Baptiste Greuze (French, 1725 - 1805)




France (Place created)




Oil on canvas


40.6 x 33 cm (16 x 13 in.)

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"This little laundress is charming, but she's a rascal I wouldn't trust an inch," the critic Denis Diderot declared when this painting was first exhibited in 1761. Indeed, Jean-Baptiste Greuze stripped the traditional theme of the washerwoman of its association with the virtue of hard work and instead overlaid it with a titillating sensuality typical of Rococo art. In a room scattered with wet and drying laundry, a disheveled maidservant with an exposed stocking and slipper fixes the viewer with a provocative gaze.

Greuze used a heavily loaded brush to apply patches of paint that describe texture and surface: the folds of the young woman's dress, the heaviness of wet cloth, the dull sheen on the pewter jug, and the grainy texture of wood.


Ange-Laurent de La Live de Jully, French, 1725 - 1779, [sold, La Live de Jully sale, Rémy, Paris, May 2, 1770, lot 115, to Langlier (Paris, France) on behalf of Gustaf Adolph Sparre.]

1770 - 1794

Count Gustaf Adolph Sparre, 1746 - 1794 (Kulla Gunnarstorp, Skåne, Sweden), by inheritance to his wife Amelie, 1794.


Countess Amelie (Ramel) Sparre, died 1830 (Kulla Gunnarstorp, Skåne, Sweden), by inheritance to her grandson, Gustaf Adolf Frederik de la Gardie.


Count Gustaf Adolf Frederik de la Gardie, 1800 - 1833 (Kulla Gunnarstorp, Skåne, Sweden), by inheritence to his father, Count Jakob Gustaf de la Gardie.


Count Jakob Gustaf de la Gardie, Swedish, 1768 - 1842, sold to Count Carl de Geer, 1837.

1837 - 1855

Count Carl de Geer, 1781 - 1861 (Leufst, Sweden), by gift to his granddaughter, Elizabeth (von Platen) Wachtmeister, 1855.


Countess Elizabeth (von Platen) Wachtmeister, 1834 - 1918 (Wanås, Sweden), by inheritence within the Wachtmeister family to Gustaf Axel Wachtmeister.

by 1958 -1978

Count Gustav Axel Wachtmeister, 1887 - 1978 (Wanås, Sweden), by inheritence within the Wachtmeister family.


Wachtmeister Family, sold through Christophe Janet Ltd. (New York, New York) to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1983.

Salon of 1761 (1761) (Cat. 102)
  • Salon, Palais du Louvre (Paris), 1761
Fem Sekler Fransk Konst: Miniatyrer, Malningar, Teckningar 1400-1900 (August 15 to November 9, 1958) (Cat. 90)
  • Nationalmuseum, (Stockholm), August 15 to November 9, 1958
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
French Genre Painting in the Age of Watteau, Chardin, and Fragonard (June 6, 2003 to May 9, 2004) (Cat. 70)
  • National Gallery of Canada, (Ottawa), June 6 to September 7, 2003
  • National Gallery of Art (Washington, D.C.), October 12, 2003 to January 11, 2004
  • Antikensammlung, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Preußischer Kulturbesitz, (Berlin), February 4 to May 9, 2004
Education Resources

Education Resource




The Laundress

Students explore the concept of work, and work typically assigned to women, through artwork depicting laundresses.

Visual Arts; English–Language Arts


Three/Five-Part Lesson

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    Audio: The Laundress