One might say of Greuze, as of Hogarth, that the moral scenes which he represents appear to have been posed for and acted by excellent actors rather than copied directly from nature. This is the truth, but seen, however, through an interpretation and under a travesty of rusticity. All is reasoned out, full of purpose, and leading to an end. There is in every stroke what the littérateurs call ideas when they talk about painting. Thus Diderot has celebrated Greuze in the most lyric strain. Greuze, however, is not a mediocre artist: he invented a genre unknown before his time, and he possesses veritable qualities of a painter. He has colour, he has touch, and his heads, modelled by square plans and, so to speak, by facets, have relief and life. His draperies, or rather his rumpled linen, torn and treated grossly in a systematic fashion to give full value to the delicacy of the flesh, reveal in their very negligence an easy brush. La Malédiction Paternelle and Le Fils Maudit are homilies that are well painted and of a practical moral, but we prefer L'Accordée du Village, on account of the adorable head of the fiancée; it is impossible to find anything younger, fresher, more innocent and more coquettishly virginal, if these two words may be connected. Greuze, and this is the cause of the renown which he enjoys now after the eclipse of his glory caused by the intervention of David and his school, has a very individual talent for painting woman in her first bloom, when the bud is about to burst into the rose and the child is about to become a maiden. As in the Eighteenth Century all the world was somewhat libertine, even the moralists, Greuze, when he painted an Innocence, always took pains to open the gauze and give a glimpse of the curve of the swelling bosom; he puts into the eyes a fiery lustre and upon the lips a dewy smile that suggests the idea that Innocence might very easily become Voluptuousness.

La Cruche Cassée. Greuze.

La Cruche Cassée.

La Cruche Cassée is the model of this genre. The head has still the innocence of childhood, but the fichu is disarranged, the rose at the corsage is dropping its leaves, the flowers are only half held in the fold of the gown and the jug allows the water to escape through its fissure.

Guide de l'Amateur au Musée du Louvre (Paris, 1882).