“Drawings of J.-B. Greuze”.
Scientifical-Research Museum of Russian Academy of Arts and French Institute in Saint-Petersburg introduce the unique exhibition from the funds of the museum – “Drawings of J.-B. Greuze”.
French artist Jean-Baptiste Greuze (1725, Tournus – 1805, Paris) painted portraits and everyday scenes, often with a moral content, and also canvases on allegorical and mythological subjects. In 1747-1750 he studied in the workshop of Сh.Grandon in Lyon, about 1750 he started studying at the Paris Academy of Painting and Sculpture, which included lessons of drawing at Сh.Natoire. In 1755 he received the title of ranked among the Academy for the painting “Reading the Bible”. In 1755-1757 the artist visited Italy. From 1769 Greuze became the member of Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture with the title of “genre artist”.
A great work of draughtsman preceded the creation of each painting of Greuze. His splendid graphical studies executed in sanguine or “in three pencils” as early as in the XVIII century became the object of collecting.
Future president of the Academy of Arts I.I.Betskoi, living abroad from 1756 to 1862, became close in Paris with a literator and diplomatist, constant correspondent of the Empress Catherine the Second F.M.Grimm, a friend of D.Diderot. This philosopher and art critic, in his turn, was close to Greuze for a long time. It is possible that after the recommendation of Grimm and with the help of Diderot the collection of artist’s drawings was bought few years later. The drawings were given to the Academy in 1769 and were used there as models.
About 30 works of Greuze left at the collection of the Scientific-Research Museum of Russian Academy of Arts till our time. They are kept in the same old folder and all of them are the studies of heads (at the Academy drawings of Greuze were classified according to the subject). At the collection of the Academy there are preliminary studies to the paintings “Village Engagement”, “Reading the Bible”, “Mother’s Remark” and others. After Diderot’s words and according to the opinion of the several later researchers, portrait types, created by Greuze, had a resumptive character and passed from one painting to another – that is why it is not always possible to distinct the belongings of the study to the definite painting. Owing to this peculiarity of the artistic method of Greuze these especially expressive drawings get more significance than preliminary material to paintings and have a complete artistic image in itself, being naturally finished works of portrait genre. They demonstrate another one side of the talent of this outstanding master of classicism, that is famous to the public by his great moral canvases. Such graphical lists of Greuze as the “Head of the Notary”, “Head of the Boy, Giving the Drink”, “Father’s Head” and especially touching “Portrait of Anna Gabriel Babyutti, Artist’s Wife” are, doubtless, the pearls of the academical collection.