The Wallace Collection

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The Beautiful Greek (La Belle Grecque)
  • Nicolas Lancret (1690 - 1743)
  • The Beautiful Greek (La Belle Grecque)
  • France
  • c. 1732
  • Painting
  • Oil on canvas
  • Image size: 68 x 51.1 cm, minimum
    Image size: 69 x 56.7 cm, maximum, irregular
  • P450
  • Small Drawing Room
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • This young woman in theatrical pose was engraved under the title 'Le Balle Grecque' by Georg Friedrich Schmidt in 1736. Schmidt also engraved a pendant of a man in Eastern dress called 'The Amorous Turk (Le Turc Amoureux)'. Lancret painted several versions of both paintings from the mid-1720s (another extant one at the Art Institute of Chicago), and it is unclear which version served as the model for Schmidt's print. He also integrated 'La Belle Grecque' into several major Fêtes galantes, but only one scene including the figure of 'Le Turc Amoureux' is known. Lancret's also produced numerous drawings of the woman in the exotic dress, probably all around the same time.

    Interest in the East intensified in France after the visit of Mehemet-Effendi, the Ottoman ambassador, to Paris in 1721. Identifications as Greek, Turkish etc. were approximate and reflected the exoticism of the period.