Study of a Woman’s Head

Jean-Baptiste Greuze French

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 639

Greuze’s contemporaries would have referred to this intense and affecting close-up of a model as a tête d’expression, meaning an expressive head or character study. Such works adhered to longstanding traditions about how best to depict emotions and convey the narratives of historical or biblical subjects. Although this highly finished depiction of a woman’s head has been associated with the imploring female protagonists in several of Greuze’s moralizing genre scenes, it appears to have been an independent painting. Many of Greuze’s têtes d’expression circulated successfully on the eighteenth-century art market.

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

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