TEFAF NEW YORK FALL
A Young Man (Savoyard)
Oil on canvas
49 x 40 cm / 19.3 x 15.8 in
ProvenanceChateau de Villepreux, collection Bertin des Veaux
Greuze’s masterful depictions of children are some of his most beguiling works. The Savoyard exemplifies the artist’s interest in a specific genre of allegorical portraiture; pictures not meant to be pure likenesses of a specific sitter, but meant to evoke in the viewer an emotional response. As with the têtes de fantasie, painted by artists such as Fragonard, these “portraits” were creations of Greuze’s imagination. ‘Savoyard’ young boys and girls were a fashionable theme for painters in the age of Louis XV and Louis XVI, other than Greuze, also François Hubert Drouais produced famous paintings with boys in Savoyard dresses. These paintings were conceived as an image of an idealized rustic countryside of France, something that even Queen Marie – Antoinette tried to recreate with her farm village, Les Hameaux, in the park of Versailles. The boy here depicted, in his rustic grey jacket and brown gilet, appears to be less the child of a farmer than that of an upper-class family in the guise of a peasant child. However, what Greuze has perfectly instilled in his portrayal, through the direct and guileless gaze of this young boy, is the unadulterated innocence of childhood. A close comparison may be found in one the most famous paintings by Greuze, the Head of a young boy (fig. 1) that the painter exhibited at the Salon of 1763 and that is presently in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art where it entered in 1932 from a bequest of the Michael Friedsam collection. A similar of the 1760’s seem also suitable for the present painting and when Greuze was at the height of his career. The painting, hitherto unpublished, has a notable provenance: it comes from Chateau de Villepreux (fig.2), the seat of the Bertin des Veaux family, a distinguished noble French family, whose members served as politicians and generals of the French Army during the Orleans kingdom and Napoleon III empire. The artwork described above is subject to changes in availability and price without prior notice. Where applicable ARR will be added.