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

The Hermit, or the Distributor of Rosaries

c. 1780
Oil on canvas, 113 x 148 cm
Private collection

This moralizing genre painting is more overtly religious and Catholic than most of the artist's paintings. The scene is set in a rocky landscape, where the central figure, an elderly Capuchin friar, sits distributing rosaries to large group of girls and young women. The girls are bringing food to the hermit and, in return, he is giving them rosaries and votary medals, which he takes from a box held by a handsome young friar. The girls are dressed in ordinary gowns, apart from the two closest to the hermit who are all in white; they are receiving rosaries from him in preparation for their confirmation.

The theme is one of charity, generosity and virtue: the young women are taking physical care of the hermit and he, in return, is giving them spiritual rewards.