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18th century French Portrait painting of a young girl - Wildenstein collection

18th century French Portrait painting of a young girl - Wildenstein collection


18th century French portrait painting of a young girl sitting on a chair, the young girl is looking cheekily at the viewer, she is wearing a blue silk jacket with large buttons and a lace-trimmed dress.


Apart from being a sweet image to look at, the present painting also has an interesting story to tell. It was once part of the collection of legendary art dealer Georges Wildenstein in Paris as "circle of Greuze". Wildenstein was a French art dealer, connoisseur and art historian. As the Wildenstein gallery accurately summarises: " A born art historian, he initiated at Wildenstein a systematic program of research and publication as an adjunct to his business ventures. At the time, art history was not a well-defined discipline, but his almost singular focus on historical detail, buttressed by an ever-expanding library of sales and exhibition catalogs, general surveys of art history, monographs, periodicals, prints, photographs, clippings, and archival documents came to define a research methodology for the production of the celebrated Wildenstein catalogues raisonnés. He also launched an ambitious program of exhibitions that later generations would perpetuate. In so doing, he set an industry standard.". Our painting experienced a dramatic time as it was looted on January 15th 1943 from the collection of Wildenstein in Paris. Fortunately, it survived the war and its looting almost unscratched and was returned to France on October 22nd 1945 and restituted to Georges Wildenstein. We have several documents of this, which will be given to the buyer.


Our painting indeed bears many similarities with works by Greuze; it is from the same time and region, depicts a typical Greuze-subject and has a smilar color palette. 

Jean-Baptiste Greuze was the most influential French genre painter of the later eighteenth-century. From the 1760s, he was one of the most famous artists internationally, a status that he almost completely lost in the twentieth century. Recent research has re-established his crucial position in international eighteenth-century art. 


Born on 21 August 1725 in Tournus in Burgundy, where he first learned, he then studied under Charles Grandon at Lyon before moving c. 1750 to Paris. He studied at the Academy, where he was accepted as candidate (agréé) in 1755 as 'peintre de genre particulier' (i. e. not a history painter). In the same year, he exhibited first at the Salon where he became a great favourite of the public and critics alike over the following years. In 1761, Greuze exhibited his most successful painting ever, 'L'Accordée de village (The marriage contract)' that he had painted for the Marquis de Marigny. This work codified his new genre of the moralist genre painting reflecting new middle-class values Greuze became famous for (core family, sentimental love, work ethic). He expressed the new ideals in painting shortly before they were expressed by Rousseau and other writers of the generation.


The canvas measures ca. 47,5*38cms and with its antique frame 56 by 47,5cms.


Biographical information of Jean-Baptiste Greuze is Courtney of the National Gallery, London.

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