An unusual oval silver pendant with an engraving of the highest quality. The subject is "The mikmaid" after a painting by Jean-Baptiste Greuze. Jean Baptiste Greuze was born at Tournus on August 21, 1725 and died in Paris in 1805. His early life is obscure, but he studied painting in Lyons and was in Paris by 1750, where he entered the Royal Academy as a student and worked with Charles Joseph Natoire, a prominent decorative painter. During the 1760s Greuze achieved a significant reputation with his sentimental paintings of peasants seen in humble surroundings and in the midst of theatrically emotional family situations.
In 1769 Greuze was admitted to the academy as a genre painter. Ambitious to become a member of the academy as a history painter, which was of higher rank, he was so angered by his admission as only a genre painter that he refused to show his paintings at the academy's exhibitions (the Salons). However, by that time he had already established a successful career and could afford to ignore the Salons.
The rising importance of the middle class, and of middle-class morality, also played a part in the success of Greuze's work. He showed the virtues of the simple life, a "return to nature," and the honesty of unaffected emotion. Somewhat ironically, Greuze's most influential champion was Denis Diderot, a leading philosopher of the Enlightenment, who saw Greuze as "the painter of virtue, the rescuer of corrupted morality." The fashion for simplicity and the "natural man" was all pervasive and engravings of Greuze's work were popular with all classes of society. His unique works were greatly admired by connoisseurs, critics and the general public throughout most of his life.
This pendant is a faithful translation to an engraving of his famous painting.