Study of the Head of an Old Woman

Object Details

Title:

Study of the Head of an Old Woman

Artist/Maker(s):

Jean-Baptiste Greuze (French, 1725 - 1805)

Culture:

French

Date:

about 1772 - 1775

Medium:

Red chalk

Dimensions:

44.1 x 32.2 cm (17 3/8 x 12 11/16 in.)

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A consummate draftsman, Jean-Baptiste Greuze made many vivid, expressive large-scale head studies in red chalk, his favorite medium for drawing. Here he only quickly indicated the woman's cap and hood, concentrating his attention on the emotional and expressive qualities of her haggard face with its furrowed brow, penetrating eyes, and parted lips.

Greuze made this drawing as a preparatory study for the figure of a woman kneeling at her husband's bedside in one of his best-known paintings, La Dame de Charité, completed in 1775 at the height of his career. Greuze's narrative paintings were highly theatrical, with facial expression and gesture conveying the story. As seen here, Greuze usually heightened the drama by depicting his figures at the peak of emotion.

Provenance

von Amerling Collection (Vienna)

May 3-6, 1916

Dorotheum (Vienna), lot 96

Sir Alexander Morley (London)

Private Collection (Landesberger ?)

Art Market (London)

Exhibitions
French Master Drawings (December 3, 1991 to February 16, 1992)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum, (Malibu), December 3, 1991 to February 16, 1992
18th and 19th Century Drawings (March 15 to May 29, 1994)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum, (Malibu), March 15 to May 29, 1994
Red Chalk Drawings (March 16 to May 30, 1999)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), March 16 to May 30, 1999
Greuze the Draftsman (May 14 to December 1, 2002) (exhibited ex-catalogue)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), September 10 to December 1, 2002
The Poetry of Paper (July 23 to October 20, 2013) (exhibited ex-catalogue)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), July 23 to October 20, 2013