Greuze, although affected by both movements, was neither conventionally rococo nor neoclassical. He is primarily remembered for his soulful and erotic depictions of young women and larger, theatrical set-pieces painted with a clear moralizing agenda.
Born the son of a roofer in the provincial town of Tournus, Greuze travelled to Paris in 1750 to pursue a career as an artist. There, he studied drawing at the Académie Royale with Charles-Joseph Natoire (1700–70). In 1755 he was agréé by the Académie as a painter of genre pieces and he exhibited his first works at the Salon that year. They were noted for their Dutch character and closeness to Chardin (1699–1779). His talent was immediately recognized by the great collector La Live de Jully who bought three of his paintings.
Books on Jean-Baptiste Greuze
Emma Barker, Greuze and the Painting of Sentiment, New York, 2005.
Colin Bailey, Patriotic Taste: collecting modern art in pre-revolutionary Paris, New Haven, 2002.
Colin Bailey, Jean-Baptiste Greuze, The Laundress, Los Angeles, 2000.
Edgar Munhall, Jean-Baptiste Greuze, 1725-1805, exh. cat., Hartford, 1976.
Anita Brookner, Greuze: The rise and fall of an eighteenth-century phenomenon, London, 1972.
Edmond and Jules de Goncourt, French Eighteenth-Century Painters: Watteau, Boucher, Chardin, La Tour, Greuze, Fragonard, 1880-2, trans. Robin Ironside, Ithaca, 1981.