five figures and a dog in an interior

The Return of the Young Hunter, c. 1775

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Modern viewers find Jean-Baptiste Greuze’s theatrical stagings melodramatic and contrived—akin to soap operas. But in his lifetime, Greuze was widely admired for elevating family drama to high art. The implicit subject here is the joy of parenthood.

This emotional scene unfolds in a fashionable Louis XVI interior. A boy who has been out hunting is lovingly embraced by his mother, while his younger sister good-naturedly grasps his arm. The father, a dashing fellow, talks with a servant who accompanied the boy. His graceful ease and stylish dishabille, like the grand setting he inhabits, show that he is a titled man of means. The wide-eyed, round-cheeked little girl is a classic Greuze type, found in countless works by the artist and undoubtedly inspired by his own daughters, who were born in the early 1760s.

The Return of the Young Hunter
Artist Life
Accession Number
Comte Jacques de Bryas, Paris (until 1898; his sale, Galerie Georges Petit, Paris, April 4-6, 1898, no. 72, for Fr 2,000, to Bain); Bain. Gabrielle Charlotte Reju (Réjane) Porel (1856-1920), Paris (until d. 1920); by descent to her heirs (until 1970; sold to Goldschmidt); [Lucien Goldschmidt, New York, 1970; sold for $14,000 to MIA]
Curator Approved

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five figures and a dog in an interior