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Une jeune Fille qui fait sa prière au pied de l'autel de l'Amour (A Young Woman Praying at the Altar
  • Jean-Baptiste Greuze (1725 - 1805)
  • Une jeune Fille qui fait sa prière au pied de l'autel de l'Amour (A Young Woman Praying at the Altar
  • France
  • 1767
  • Painting
  • Oil on canvas
  • Image size: 145.5 x 113 cm
  • P441
  • Study
Commentary
History
Further Reading
  • The painting marks a turning point in Greuze's career. The painter had become a candidate of the Academy in 1755. In the subsequent years, he became the most celebrated painter in France and beyond with scenes of middle-class genre such as the 'Accordée de village (Marriage Contract)' of 1761. In 1767, he was reminded by the Academy to hand in his reception piece: Greuze chose a history painting ('Septimius Severus Reproaching Caracalla') instead of the genre scenes he had become famous for. When he handed the 'Caracalla' in in 1769, he was only accepted as a specialist painter (not as a history painter) because of perceived weaknesses in anatomy and composition. Greuze did not exhibit again in the Salon until 1800.
    The present work was one of a number of classical subjects Greuze exhibited at the 1769 Salon, which demonstrate his ambition to be recognized as a history painter. Greuze researched his subject carefully: the statue of Cupid for example derives from an engraving in Pierre-Jean Mariette’s 'Traité des pierres gravées' of 1750. The ambitious canvas was, however, subject to the same critical backlash as his reception piece in the same Salon. It was criticised for its spatial inconsistencies and clumsy figures by the critics, most violently by Diderot. The picture was acquired by the duc de Choiseul who hung it in his bedroom. Greuze's panting was among the first examples of the subject that became highly pupolar in late eighteenth-century French painting.