The Laundress


Jean-Baptiste Greuze: The Laundress

Colin B. Bailey


98 pages

PDF file size: 7.83 MB


Before its acquisition by the Getty Museum in 1983, Greuze’s eighteenth-century masterpiece La Blanchisseuse (The Laundress) had “disappeared” from circulation into private collections and become virtually unknown to twentieth-century audiences. In this fascinating monograph, author Colin B. Bailey draws from the recent renaissance in the study of Ancien Régime art and society not only to situate this work in the context of Greuze’s early career and to consider it against what is known of the realities of washing linen in eighteenth-century Paris, but also to suggest how patronage, exhibiting, and marketing each played a significant role in The Laundress’s early history.

Jean-Baptiste Greuze: The Laundress is part of the Getty Museum Studies on Art series, designed to introduce individual artworks or small groups of related works to a broad public with an interest in the history of art.

Each monograph is written by a leading scholar and features a close discussion of its subject as well as a detailed analysis of the broader historical and cultural context in which the work was created.

Table of Contents

  • The Rediscovery of an Eighteenth-Century French Masterpiece
  • Greuze’s Path to the Salon of 1761
  • The Laundress Makes a Splash
  • The Maidservant’s Changing Role in French Genre Painting
  • Chardin’s Cabinet Paintings and Other Influences on Greuze
  • The Brutal Business of Laundering Linen
  • Greuze’s Naturalism and the Genre Poissard
  • The Female Domestic as Seductress
  • Notes
  • Acknowledgements

About the Authors

Colin B. Bailey is Deputy Director and Chief Curator of the National Gallery of Canada. He is the author of The Loves of the Gods: Mythological Painting from Watteau to David (New York, 1992) and Renoir’s Portraits: Impressions of an Age (Yale University Press, 1997).