British 18th C, except portraits, British 19th C, except portraits, Continental European after 1800, Continental European before 1800 4 Can you identify the artist of this interior? Could it be Jean-Baptiste Greuze?

Interior - Chambermaid and Man with Books
Topic: Artist

Can anyone help us identify the artist?

We recently received an enquiry about this painting. We have no information about it and the artist is listed as unknown. After having a look at the reverse I spotted a very small printed label glued to the stretcher, possibly an exhibition label.

70. The Companion Greuze

After doing a quick search I came up with the name Jean-Baptiste Greuze. The painting doesn't appear to be signed. Can anyone help us identify the artist?

Harris Museum & Art Gallery, Entry reviewed by Art UK

4 comments

Clive Hamilton,

An interesting painting clearly in a style suggesting Greuze. The discarded shoe, the distress of the young maid, the unbuttoned clothing of the boy, suggests a narrative popular at the time. In this case perhaps a young son of the household visiting the maid rather than going to school (see books). His cheeky stare and the placing of the finger to his lips indicates that he is asking the viewer to keep his secret. In the 18C the discarded shoe suggests a certain act has taken place and the girl's distress suggests she is having second thoughts. The addition of the mattress cast on the floor leaves little to the imagination. In summary, unless it is a copy of perhaps a work by Greuze or a follower of this artist, the narrative is well represented and would have appealed to buyers of the time.

This certainly has the look of Greuze -- or at least the content, so well described in the post above, would seem to be typical of his work. However, the painting is not good enough in detail to be by him. Could it perhaps be based on an engraving after Greuze?

A quick web sarch has not yet found it, but a closely related subject is Greuze’s ‘Les plaintes de l'horloge’ or ‘La vertu chancelante’ (Virtue faltering) in the Alte Pinakothek, Munich. See the engraving in the BM 1871,0812.3830 and the original painting on the Web Gallery of Art.

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