GREUZE, Jean-Baptiste
(b. 1725, Tournus, d. 1805, Paris)

L'Accordée de Village

Oil on canvas, 92 x 117 cm
Musée du Louvre, Paris

This painting is the essence of Greuze, compositionally as well as in other ways. His preferred setting is an interior, a shallow stage-like area, normally with one right-angled wall; the figures are assembled in a loosely-knit frieze across the composition, a tendency increasing in his later work. Greuze concentrated on human nature, excluding the natural world and simplifying the setting so as not to distract from the gamut of emotions expressed by the faces. Each figure expresses an individual reaction to the moment. Disunity in the family is prophesied, for the mother tearfully must part with her daughter, whose younger sister is also saddened, while her elder is sullenly envious. The tearful, yet ineffective females contrast with the trio of men: the dignified father praising his daughter and exhorting his future son-in-law, a serious young man who receives girl, dowry and exhortation, and the sly peasant notary who literally documents the occasion and reminds us that it is as much legal as domestic.