The Laundress (La Blanchisseuse)

Object Details

Title:

The Laundress (La Blanchisseuse)

Artist/Maker:

Jean-Baptiste Greuze (French, 1725 - 1805)

Culture:

French

Place:

France (Place created)

Date:

1761

Medium:

Oil on canvas

Dimensions:

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.

Provenance
1761-1770

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.

1794-1830

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

1830-1833

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

1833-1837

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.

1855-1918

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.

1978-1983

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

Exhibitions
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
Bibliography

"Exposition de peintures, sculptures et gravures." Année Littéraire 47, suppl. vol. 3, no. 1272. (1761) p. 86 ms.

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Blanc, Abbé Le. "Explication des peintures, sculptures & gravures de messieurs de l'Académie Royale..." Mercure de France 1 (October 1761) pp. 160-61.

La Porte, Abbé de [Joseph de la Porte]. "Observations d'une Société d'amateurs sur les tableaux exposés au Salon, cette année 1761." L'Observateur littéraire 7, no. 94 (1761) p. 46-7.

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Granberg, Olof. Catalogue raisonné de tableaux anciens inconnus jusqu'ici dans les collections privées de la Suède (Stockholm: Samson & Wallin, 1886) pp. 19-20, no. 29.

Normand, Charles. Les artistes célèbres: J. B. Greuze (Paris: Librairie de l'art, 1892) pp. 24, 109.

Göthe, Anders Georg. Tafvelsamlingen på Wanås (Stockholm: Iduns Tryckeri Aktiebolag, 1895) p. 16, no. 20, ill.

Dilke, Emilia Francis Strong, Lady. French Painters of the XVIIIth Century (London: G. Bell and Sons, 1899) ill. opposite p. 134.

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Martin, Jean. Oeuvre de J.- B. Greuze: Catalogue raisonné suivi de la liste des gravures exécutées d'après ses ouvrages (Paris: G. Rapilly, 1908) p. 16, no. 208.

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Rivers, John. Greuze and His Models (London: Hutchinson & Co., 1912) pp. 186, ill. facing p. 190 (engraving repr. in reverse).

Grate, Pontus, and Per Bjurström. Fem Sekler Fransk Konst: Miniatyrer, Målningar, Teckningar 1400-1900, exh. cat. (Stockholm: Nationalmuseum, 1958) p. 78, no. 90.

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Brookner, Anita. Greuze: The rise and fall of an eighteenth-century phenomenon (London: Elek, 1972) p. 62.

Hasselgren, Ingmar. "Konstsamlaren Gustaf Adolf Sparre 1746-1794: Hans studieresa, vaning och konstsamling i Göteborg." Ph.D. diss. (University of Gottenburg, 1974) pp. 118, 121, 172, 197.

Munhall, Edgar. Jean-Baptiste Greuze, 1725-1805, exh. cat. (Hartford: Wadsworth Atheneum, 1977) p. 21.

Rosenberg, Pierre. Chardin 1699-1779, exh. cat. (Paris: Grand Palais, 1979) p. 292.

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Education Resources

Education Resource

Subjects

Grades

Format

The Laundress

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

Visual Arts; English–Language Arts

3-5

Three/Five-Part Lesson

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