Jean-Baptiste Greuze: Portraits

Figure 1.--Paul Stroganoff was painted by Greuze in 1788, a year before the Revolution in France. Note the commfortable looking open-collar blouse. Paul was 6 years old at the time.

Greuze was an eminent portraitist. Greuze was well known for family pictures and portraits.Among his most famous portraits are those of the Dauphin, the ill fated son of King Louis XVI, Robespierre, Napoleon, as well as numerous political and artistic figures. Few portraitists painted such a diverse list of subjects. Some of his most striking portraits are the heads of both known and anonymous children and young women. One such portrit is of Paul Stroganoff. This painting made in 1778 is portrait of Paul as a 6-year old boy. It is remarkable by the black background from which the boy's hair slowly appears and the opposition of the full of light face and white shirt. The Stroganoff dynasty was a very wealthy one who conquered during past five centuries Siberia and gathered an exceptional collection of art including paintings, sculptures, furniture, jewellery, icons, etc. that was dispersed during revolution. Interestingly, Paul's very natural hair style could be worn by a boy today. His ruffled, open collared blouse is also very interesting. It was probably worn with a skeleton suit. After the turn of the 19th century, especialy by the 1810s, these blouses wer more commonly opened closely buttobed at the collar. Some art experts have trouble differentiating betwwen Grueze's portraits and those of Madam Vigée LeBrun. Two portraits at issues are matching oval portraits of the children of the actor Calliot, painted in 1787.


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Created: March 17, 2002
Last updated: April 17, 2003