A Tired Woman with Two Children

Greuze, Jean-Baptiste

Primary Category: Visual Arts / Painting/Drawing

Genre: Ink and chalk on paper

Annotated by:
Aull, Felice
  • Date of entry: Aug-13-2002
  • Last revised: Jun-22-2006


A woman dressed in simple clothes sits sideways in a small room. The furniture is sparse and primitive; a shaft of daylight shines from above into a corner--the effect is almost dungeon-like. In the left foreground is a standing object--perhaps a churn or other implement.

The woman is leaning forward, facing the floor, the left side of her head resting on her bent left arm. Her eyes seem to be closed. Close by, in a corner, two young children are tangled up with each other--playing or fighting.


In contrast to Greuze's painting, "The Beloved Mother" and his study of The Well-Loved Mother (see this database), in which tired mothers reap some satisfaction from the love and demands of their children, in this picture, a woman is simply exhausted. The children pay her no heed--they are occupied with each other--yet, because they are close by, they are clearly her responsibility. It is not clear whether the woman is their mother or whether she has been assigned to watch them. Unlike other French painters of his era, Greuze often painted domestic scenes and his depictions of people are highly empathetic.


The National Gallery of Art cites dates of 1750/1761.

Primary Source

National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.