The Paintings of James McNeill Whistler

YMSM 014
Copy after Greuze's 'La Cruche cassée'

Copy after Greuze's 'La Cruche cassée'

Artist: James McNeill Whistler
Date: 1857
Collection: Whereabouts Unknown
Accession Number:
Medium: oil
Support: unknown
Size: unknown
Signature: unknown
Inscription: unknown
Frame: unknown

Date

Whistler's Copy after Greuze's 'La Cruche cassée' dates from 1857. 1

J. B. Greuze, La Cruche cassée, Louvre
J. B. Greuze, La Cruche cassée, Louvre

On 3 November 1857 Whistler was granted permission to copy La Cruche cassée by Jean-Baptiste Greuze (1725-1805) (oval, 108.5 x 86.5). 2

Images

Copy after Greuze's 'La Cruche cassée', Whereabouts unknown
Copy after Greuze's 'La Cruche cassée', Whereabouts unknown

J. B. Greuze, La Cruche cassée, Louvre
J. B. Greuze, La Cruche cassée, Louvre

Subject

Titles

Only one title is recorded :

Description

J. B. Greuze, La Cruche cassée, Louvre
J. B. Greuze, La Cruche cassée, Louvre

Whistler's painting was a copy of the popular work by Jean-Baptiste Greuze (1725–1805), La Cruche Cassée, 1771, oil on canvas, 109.0 × 87.0 cm, Musée du Louvre, Paris. It was an oval, and showed a young woman in a silvery white and grey dress trimmed with pink, holding a broken pot bundled up in her over-skirt, and looking attractively depressed. The Louvre website described the painting by Greuze as follows:

'Une jeune fille d’une innocence enfantine et aux grands yeux candides, un ruban violet et des fleurs dans les cheveux, debout, retient des deux mains des fleurs éparpillées dans sa robe ; une cruche fêlée est accrochée à son bras gauche. Son fichu est dérangé et laisse entrevoir la rondeur de sa gorge, la rose de son corsage s’effeuille et sa jolie robe de satin blanc est un peu malmenée. Le modèle balance entre la candeur virginale et la provocation malgré un air légèrement dépité. Greuze excelle à rendre les transparences et le velouté des chairs, et la fausse naïveté étudiée de cette ravissante personne qui serait peut-être le portrait de sa propre femme. A l’arrière-plan, on aperçoit une fontaine à l’antique.' 4

Comments

In 1863 when Symphony in White, No. 1: The White Girl y038 was on exhibition at the Salon des Refusés, Jules Antoine Castagnary (1830-1888) compared it to Greuze's Cruche cassée and Jeune fille pleurant son oiseau mort, which, he wrote, had been interpreted by Denis Diderot (1713-1784) as a young girl who had been seduced by a lover. Castagnary added:

'L'interprétation de M. Whistler est plus grave, plus sévère, plus anglaise. Sa Dame blanche est mariée, évidemment: la nuit qu'elle a passée est régulière, légitime … Pourtant la petite s'étonne d'un grande changement survenu: Tout est blanc, excepté elle-même. Interrogez la fleur effeuillée qu'elle tient à la main: elle seule pourra vous répondre; c'est la continuation de l'allégorie commencée par la cruche cassée et le petit oiseau mort.' 5

Technique

Composition

J. B. Greuze, La Cruche cassée, Louvre
J. B. Greuze, La Cruche cassée, Louvre

It is not known if Whistler included all the details in the painting by Greuze.

Technique

Unknown.

Conservation History

Unknown.

Frame

Unknown.

History

Provenance

According to Thomas Armstrong (1832-1911) (quoted by Lamont), who was with Whistler in Paris in the late 1850s, Whistler was commissioned to paint copies after Ingres and Couture (Copy after Ingres's 'Roger délivrant Angélique' y011, Copy after a Group in Couture's 'Romains de la décadence' y018), and then 'two more pictures' in the Louvre collections chosen by his patron, whom Armstrong described as 'a whaling captain.' 6 This copy may have been one of these.

However, it is possible that it went instead to a member of Whistler's family. There is a cryptic reference in a letter from Whistler to his sister-in-law Helen ('Nellie') Euphrosyne Whistler (1849-1917) in 1900,

'As to the Greuze, my advice is not to hesitate! unless I know more -

I am astonished at your being offered £60. for it - if it were an original, its market value might be anything - but perhaps ten pounds - or say £15 - at most -

I should say then take the sixty by all means.' 7

Unfortunately there is no further reference to this and it is possible that it was a print after a painting by Greuze rather than Whistler's copy.

Exhibitions

There is no record of an exhibition.

Bibliography

Catalogues Raisonnés

Authored by Whistler

Catalogues 1855-1905

Journals 1855-1905

Monographs

Books on Whistler

Books, General

On Greuze:

Catalogues 1906-Present

Journals 1906-Present

Websites

On Greuze:

Unpublished

Other


Notes:

1: YMSM 1980 [more] (cat. no. 14).

2: Louvre; Archives du Louvre, LL 22.

3: YMSM 1980 [more] (cat. no. 14).

4: Musée du Louvre website (at louvre.fr).

5: Castagnary 1863a[more]; review of Ouvrage de peinture, sculpture, gravure, lithographie et architecture, refusés par le Jury de 1863, et exposés, par décision de S.M. l'Empereur, au salon annexi, Salon des Refusés, Palais des Champs-Elysées, Paris, 1863; see also Curry 1984 [more], p. 41.

6: Lamont 1912 [more], pp. 178-79.

7: [24 October 1900], GUW #11658.