Broken Eggs

Jean-Baptiste Greuze French

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 630

In moralizing genre subjects such as this, Greuze bypassed the arcane subject matter of history painting to appeal to a broad public. At the Salon of 1757, a critic even declared that the pose of this young servant girl, whose loss of virginity is symbolized by the broken eggs, was worthy of a history painter. Greuze struck upon such subjects, based in part on seventeenth-century Dutch painting, while still a student in Rome, though he would spend the next decades stubbornly pursuing the official title of history painter.

Broken Eggs, Jean-Baptiste Greuze (French, Tournus 1725–1805 Paris), Oil on canvas

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