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Study of the Head of an Old Man
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Jean-Baptiste Greuze
French, Paris, about 1755
Red chalk
15 5/8 x 12 5/8 in.
84.GB.72

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In Jean-Baptiste Greuze's moralizing narrative paintings, facial expression and gesture were key to telling the story, and his contemporaries greatly admired his skills. In drawn studies such as this one, he departed from the high drama of his paintings and captured his sitter's individual character with sympathy and humility. A consummate draftsman, Greuze made many vivid, expressive, large-scale head studies in chalk, which he did not necessarily intend for specific paintings; sometimes they were later engraved and distributed as prints.

This drawing may be a study for the old man seated at the right of the painting L'Aveugle trompé in Moscow's Pushkin Museum.