49.0 x 62.4cm sight; 75.5 x 88.0 x 3.5cm frame
At the Salon of 1765 Greuze exhibited a now lost compositional sketch for 'The well-beloved mother'. It was praised for its moralism by the 'philosophe' and art critic, Denis Diderot. For Diderot, Greuze was the epitome of a new kind of painting in France, one that endowed humble, homespun dramas with the narrative force and moralising overtones of history painting. By presenting contemporary characters in recognisable settings together with forcefully expressed emotions and declamatory gestures, genre scenes like 'The well-beloved mother' were guaranteed to be immediately understood - and felt - by Greuze's audience.
On the basis of the sketch exhibited at the Salon of 1765 Greuze then developed a finished painting. This picture was painted on commission for the Marquis de Laborde, who evidently required Greuze to turn his genre scene into a group portrait of the patron and his family.
This drawing was made after the painting, which was exhibited only very briefly at the salon of 1769. It was intended to serve as the model for an engraving by Carlo Antonio Porporati, who signed a contract with Greuze to make the print in March 1771. Porporati, however, never carried the project through and the following year Jean Massard entered into an agreement to produce the engraving. It was not published until 1775. The drawing's purpose accounts for its unusually detailed and careful finish. Greuze insisted that the drawing be faithfully reproduced to size by the engraver.
Simon Schama (Author), Citizens: a chronicle of the French Revolution, London, 2004, vol. 1: 150, 151 (illus.). pl. 43
Sandra Carroll (Editor), Birgit Pretzsch (Editor), Peter Wagner (Editor), Framing women, Germany, 2003, 89, 91, 105, 107-111, 124 (illus.).
Richard Beresford (England; Australia) (Author), Peter Raissis (Australia) (Author), The James Fairfax collection of old master paintings, drawings and prints, Domain, 2003, 90-93, 91 (colour illus.), 92 (colour illus.). cat.no. 24, illustration on page 92 is a detail
Edgar Munhall (Author), Greuze the Draftsman, London, 2002, 200-203, 201 (colour illus.). cat.no. 70
'Collections: European Art Before 1900' pg. 20-21, Art Gallery of New South Wales Annual Report 1999 1999, 1999, 20 (illus.), 21.
'The Prince of Prints and the Duke of Drawings - David Tunick' by A Brandt, Town and Country Oct 1993, Oct 1993, 119.
'Drawn to the Master' by A.F. Collins, House & garden Apr 1991, Apr 1991, 90.
Greuze the Draftsman, The Frick Collection, 14 May 2002–04 Aug 2002.
Greuze the Draftsman, J. Paul Getty Museum, 10 Sep 2002–01 Dec 2002.
The James Fairfax collection of old master paintings, drawings and prints, Art Gallery of New South Wales, 17 Apr 2003–20 Jul 2003.
Old Europe: Prints & drawings from the collection 1500-1800, Art Gallery of New South Wales, 03 Jun 2006–06 Aug 2006.