Young shepherd holding a flower by Jean-Baptiste Greuze

Au musée du Petit Palais à Paris

Young shepherd holding a flower by Jean-Baptiste Greuze

Version française   

Jean-Baptiste Greuze

(Tournus, 1725 - Paris, 1805)

Jeune berger qui tente le sort pour savoir s'il est aimé de sa bergère (Jeune berger tenant une fleur)

1760-1761
Oil on canvas
H. : 72,5 cm. ; W. : 59,5 cm

Paris, Petit Palais, inv. PDUT01192.
Former collection Alphonse de Rothschild ; Baroness Bethsabée de Rothschild (Purchased using interest from the Dutuit bequest), 1975

The Marquis de Marigny, general director to the king’s finances, commissioned this painting in 1756 from Jean-Baptiste Greuze – newly appointed at the Académie de Peinture – for his sister the Marquise de Pompadour’s private apartments in Versailles. It depicts a young shepherd making a love wish before blowing the dandelion he holds in his hand. It was displayed in the 1761 Salon entitled Young shepherd taking a chance to find out if his shepherdess loves him back. In that occasion, philosopher and art critic Denis Diderot noticed similarities in the elegance of the clothing and radiant colors with the work of François Boucher, yet underlining the ambiguity of the chosen theme (“it could easily be mistaken for the work of Boucher. And if one did not know what the subject was, one would never guess”).

With its counterpart, Simplicity displayed in Fort Worth (Kimbell Art Museum), the Young shepherd holding a flower share the same oval canvas shape and a similar subject inspired by pastoral painting and a romantic theme. Simplicity, which shows a girl pulling the petal off a daisy to find out whether her love is reciprocated, saying, “He loves me, he loves me not…” was finished by Greuze years later in 1668.

Alphonse de Rothschild acquired both paintings for his collection in 1850. The Young shepherd holding a flower was part of Bethsabée de Rothschild’s collection until 1975. Its counterpart, Simplicity belonged to the Baron Edmond Adolphe Edmond Maurice Jules Jacques de Rothschild (1926-1997) - son of Maurice de Rothschild – and was acquired by the Kimbell Art Foundation in 1985.

Laura de Fuccia, Project manager, Institut national d’histoire de l’art, 2019

Jean-Baptiste Greuze, Simplicity, Fort Worth, Kimbell Art Museum.

Further reading

Bibliography

– Baker, Emma, Greuze and the Painting of Sentiment, New York, Cambridge Universitry Press, 2005

– Percival, Melissa, « Jean-Baptiste Greuze, Jeune berger tenant une fleur » in Ceci n’est pas un portrait. Figures de fantaisie de Murillo, Fragonard, Tiepolo…, exhibition catalog (Toulouse, musée des Augustines, November 21st – March 6th 2015), Paris, Somogy, 2015, p. 160.

Online Resources

See the themed research dedicated to Alphonse de Rothschild’s collection at the Hôtel de Talleyrand.