Jean-Baptiste Greuze (French, 1725–1805)
Oil on canvas
28 3/4 x 37 in. (73 x 94 cm)
Bequest of William K. Vanderbilt, 1920 (20.155.8)
Broken Eggs attracted favorable comment when exhibited at the Paris Salon of 1757. One critic noted that the young girl had a noble pose worthy of a history painter. Its pendant was The Neapolitan Gesture of 1757 (Worcester Art Museum), in which several of the same models appear, but the seducer is foiled by the old woman.
This picture was painted in Rome, but the principal source may have been a seventeenth-century Dutch painting by Frans van Mieris the Elder (State Hermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg), which Greuze would have known from an engraving. The broken eggs symbolize the loss of the serving girl's virginity.