Study of a Woman’s Head

Jean-Baptiste Greuze French

Not on view

Greuze’s contemporaries would have referred to this intense and affecting close-up of a model as an expressive head, or tête d’expression. Such works followed longstanding academic theories about how best to depict emotions that would convey the narratives of historical or biblical subjects. Although this highly finished tête d’expression has been associated with the imploring female protagonist in several of Greuze’s moralizing genre scenes, it appears to have been an independent painting. Greuze’s têtes d’expression in fact enjoyed a healthy place on the eighteenth-century art market. This painting was part of The Met’s founding purchase in 1871.

Study of a Woman’s Head, Jean-Baptiste Greuze (French, Tournus 1725–1805 Paris), Oil on wood

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