DETAIL : Joseph-D�sir� COURT born Rouen 1797 � Paris 1865 Woman Lying on a Divan 1829 Painting Oil on canvas
Jean-Baptiste GREUZE | Epiphany

GREUZE, Jean-Baptiste
1725 – 1805
[Le gâteau des rois]
Oil on canvas
71.0 (h) x 92.5 (w) cm
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Jean-Baptiste Greuze was one of Europe’s first celebrity painters. He built a reputation on instructive paintings that covered the edifying themes of the education of children, the virtues of a simple, provincial family life, and the heroism of everyday activities.

Epiphany depicts a peasant family participating in the annual celebration of the gateau de roi (a Catholic feast held each year on the 6th of January), where the children search for a bean hidden in the king’s cake, the finder of which will become king for the day. Just as the philosophers Denis Diderot and Jean-Jacques Rousseau were asking the country’s bourgeoisie to rid themselves of the distractions and trappings of civilisation – to return to nature and a moral, family life – Greuze’s Epiphany makes clear the simple (if completely illusory) pleasures of the honest, peasant family, uncorrupted by the temptations of modern, bourgeois life.

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