The Arms of a Girl Holding a Bird
31.9 cm x 27.3 cm (12 9/16 in. x 10 3/4 in.)
(Tournus, 1725 - 1805, Paris)
Medium and Support:
Red chalk on cream laid paper
Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin, The Suida-Manning Collection, 2017
Greuze was the most important French painter of mid century. Frustrated as a history painter, acute as a portraitist, he was famed for his genre works of psychological astuteness, theatrical staging, and moralizing lesson. He was also the most systematic and enterprising about graphic processes of any artist of his time both in the preparation of his paintings and in the satisfaction of the huge demand for his art through reproductive engravings. Exceptionally focused and incisive red chalk studies of faces and hands comprise a special and large category of his drawings. These reflect an intensive, practically phrenological study of the expression of emotion and in turn the plotting of its translation into more developed drawings and paint. Although it has not been connected with another work, the present drawing is typical.