This is a portrait of the head and upper body of a woman who sits leaning back against her chair. The view is at an angle so that we see primarily the left side of her face. Her left eye seems to be looking vacantly into space while her right eye appears almost closed. Her mouth is slightly open--she seems to be smiling faintly but she looks weary.


This is one of a number of Greuze's studies of individual faces that have been described by Greuze scholar Edgar Munhall as "studies in expression." These studies are extraordinary in the way they convey emotions. In this portrait we see a mixture of emotions--satisfaction and fatigue, the complex feelings evoked by motherhood and family responsibility.

It is thought that this pastel is related to Greuze's painting, "The Beloved Mother," which depicts an exhausted woman and her clamoring children. By entitling these pictures as he does, Greuze transforms the needy demands that children make on their parents into love, and exhorts his audience to respect and love their elders.


Painted 1765

Primary Source

National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.