The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
The Broken Mirror
  • Jean-Baptiste Greuze (1725 - 1805)
  • The Broken Mirror
  • France
  • c. 1762 - 1763
  • Painting
  • Oil on canvas
  • Image size: 56 x 45.6 cm
  • P442
  • Boudoir
Commentary
History
Further Reading
  • A fine example of Greuze’s modern moral genre subjects, The Broken Mirror is a parable of carelessness, where the disarray of the interior and girl’s dress reflects the disarray of her morals. The fact that the woman in the present picture laments the loss of her virginity before marriage is emphasised by the yapping dog, a common symbol of carnal desire in eighteenth-century French painting, and the ringless hand that draws our attention in the centre of the picture. The high finish of the painting, the description of different surfaces and the size of the painting all refer to Dutch genre scenes, in particular works of the Fijnschilders, such as Mieris and Metsu. While the style looks back to Dutch paintings, the emotional contents of the painting is entirely of Greuze's time.
    The picture belonged to Boucher’s friend, Randon de Boisset, who refused to lend it to the Salon of 1763 although it was listed in the catalogue.