Young Shepherd Holding a Flower
Painting commissioned from Greuze in 1756 by the Marquis de Marigny, Director General of the King's Buildings, for his sister, the Marquise de Pompadour.
With its counterpart, Simplicity (Fort Worth, Kimbell Art Museum), which shows a girl pulling the petal off a daisy to find out whether her love is reciprocated, saying, “He loves me, he loves me not…” it hung in the apartment of King Louis XV’s favourite.
In these two paintings from the start of his career, Greuze showed great similarity to Boucher, La Pompadour’s favourite painter. Diderot himself would later try to promote himself against the latter, recognising this similarity: “This Shepherd pulling the petals off a daisy to find out whether his shepherdess loves him is rather insignificant. With the elegance of the clothing and radiant colours, it could easily be mistaken for the work of Boucher. And if one did not know what the subject was, one would never guess”.
The exceptionally light colour scheme with its harmony of pinks, blues and mauves complemented by the golden tone of the curly hair, and the combination of transparent glazes and vigorous impastos is indeed reminiscent of the art of Boucher, from whom Greuze later had to distance himself.