(Tournus 1725 - Paris 1805)
The First Harvest of the Wheat
476 x 593 mm. (18 3/4 x 23 3/8 in.)
The present sheet, which does not seem to have been translated into a finished painting, seems to be a pendant to The First Furrow. It depicts the family of the farmer showing its gratitude for the son’s hard work, while at the right background young women serve bread baked from the wheat he has harvested. Although no related canvas is known to have been painted, the size and finish of this drawing suggest that the artist had fully developed the composition. Another, earlier preparatory study for the Pushkin painting is today in the Musée Greuze in Tournus.
A similarly large compositional drawing by Greuze for The First Furrow, in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, is considerably less finished than the present sheet.
Among stylistically comparable works by Greuze is a finished drawing of A Couple in a Park (also known as The Departure for the Hunt), executed in grey ink and wash and exhibited at the Salon of 1800; the drawing, formerly in the collection of Edmond and Jules de Goncourt, is today in the Louvre.
A gifted, versatile and prolific draughtsman, Greuze was praised as such by Diderot, who noted, in a review of the Salon of 1763, that ‘this man draws like an angel.’ He was equally adept in chalks, pastel and ink, and often exhibited finished drawings alongside his paintings at the Salons. The 18th century collector, dealer and connoisseur Pierre-Jean Mariette commented that Greuze’s drawings were much in demand, and that collectors habitually paid high prices for them.
Edgar Munhall, New York, in 1970
His sale, New York, Sotheby’s, 9 January 1996, lot 144 (unsold)
Private collection, New York.