The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
L'education commencée (Education Begun)
  • Nicholas-Bernard Lépicié (1735 - 1784)
  • L'education commencée (Education Begun)
  • France
  • 1774 - 1779
  • Painting
  • Oil on oak panel
  • Image size: 13.7 x 10.2 cm
  • Signature: 'Lépicié'
  • P466
  • Boudoir
Commentary
History
Further Reading
  • This painting of a woman teaching his granddaughter to read is based on a group from one of Lépicié's most successful genre scenes. The artist exhibited a first version at the Salon of 1775 that was engraved by Jacques-Philippe Le Bas under the title 'L'Atelier du menusier' (The Carpenter's Workshop; c. 64 x 81 cm; untraced). A second, smaller version with slight variants is probably contemporary (New York, art market, 2006). Lépicié combined this group with a detail of a lost painting 'Menage des bonnes gens' (The Household of Good-Hearted People) showing a mother feeding her baby. The two pendants in the Wallace Collection were probably painted for Le Bas who engraved them under the titles 'Le devoir maternel' (Maternal Duty) and 'L'education commencée' (Education Begun).
    Both larger scenes were part of a group of paintings by Lépicié promoting new, middle-class family values that had first featured in painting by Jean-Baptiste Greuze some years earlier. Lépicié put a particular focus on the female roles in his paintings. From Greuze's paintings these ideas quickly reached the mainstream of French painting and literature. The two smaller paintings by Lépicié in the Wallace Collection isolate groups that had formerly been associated with religious scenes of the Madonna and of St Anne teaching the Virgin.