L'abbé Barthélemy. Letter to the comte de Caylus. May 12, 1756 [published in "Voyage en Italie de M. l'abbé Barthelemy . . .", Paris: F. Buisson, An X (1802), p. 138; reprinted by Minkoff Reprints, Geneva, 1972], describes the painting and adds "la figure de la fille a une position si noble, qu'elle pourrait orner un tableau d'histoire".
[E.-C. Fréron]. "Lettre XV, Exposition des ouvrages de peinture, de sculpture & de gravûre." Année littéraire 5 (1757), pp. 347–48 (Collection Deloynes, vol. 7, no. 88; McWilliam 1991, no. 0103), praises the picture: "Avec quel plaisir on considère une jeune fille aimable, affligé d'avoir renversé un panier d'oeufs! Sa tête est charmante; elle est peinte avec une belle douceur, & pleine d'expression. On trouve dans le reste du tableau, avec le plus grande vérité, une force singulière de couleur, et en effet très piquant".
[Charles Joseph] Natoire. Letter to Mme de Pompadour. February 22, 1757 [published in Ref. Goncourt 1880, p. 332], notes that Greuze had just completed the pendant to a painting he had made for l'abbé Gougenot.
John Smith. A Catalogue Raisonné of the Works of the Most Eminent Dutch, Flemish, and French Painters. 8, London, 1837, p. 430, no. 113, states that "while playing with a bow and arrow, [the little boy] has hurt his hand with the barb; an allusion to the danger of playing with Cupid's darts"; notes that the painting was engraved by Moiette.
Anatole de Montaiglon in Jules Renouvier. Histoire de l'art pendant la révolution . . . suivi d'une étude sur J.-B. Greuze. Paris, 1863, pp. 504–5, as one of four paintings "dans le costume italien" that Greuze sent to the 1757 Salon.
Edmond de Goncourt and Jules de Goncourt. L'art du dix-huitième siècle. 1, 3rd ed. Paris, 1880, pp. 332, 339, 350, state that it was bought for 126,000 francs by Lord Hertford at the San Donato sale in 1870.
Ch. Normand. "J. B. Greuze." Les artistes célèbres. Paris, 1892, pp. 20, 61, ill. p. 66 (Veyrassat etching), sees it as an example of Greuze borrowing from Boucher; locates it in the collection of Lord Dudley.
Henry Marcel in Camille Mauclair. Jean-Baptiste Greuze. Paris, 1905, p. 40.
J. Martin and Charles Masson. Catalogue raisonné de l'oeuvre peint et dessiné de Jean-Baptiste Greuze [published as supplement to C. Mauclair, Jean-Baptiste Greuze, Paris, 1905]. Paris, 1905, p. 14, no. 181; ill. p. 3 (engraving), list related works: a study, sold March 18, 1890; a drawing in trois crayons heightened with pastel, signed and dated 1756, sold March 16, 1898; engravings by Moitte and Haïd, and an etching by Veyrassat.
John Rivers. Greuze and His Models. London, 1912, pp. 125–26, 270, ill. opp. p. 126 (Moitte engraving).
Louis Hautecœur. Greuze. Paris, 1913, pp. 22, 58, 120.
"The William K. Vanderbilt Bequest." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 15 (December 1920), p. 269.
Louis Réau. "Greuze et la Russie." L'art et les artistes 1 (1920), p. 282, in the Wallace Collection, London.
Wallace Collection Catalogues: Pictures and Drawings. 14th ed. London, 1920, p. 123, as exhibited at Bethnal Green in 1872.
Gaston Maugras. Le duc et la duchesse de Choiseul, leur vie intime, leurs amis et leurs temps. Paris, 1924, p. 65, describes this picture and states that the Duchess enthusiastically bought it.
Wallace Collection Catalogues: Pictures and Drawings. 15th ed. London, 1928, p. 122, among twenty-two works lent by Sir Richard Wallace to the Bethnal Green Museum.
Harry B. Wehle in French Painting and Sculpture of the XVIII Century. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1935, p. 7, pl. 32, ill.
Millia Davenport. The Book of Costume. New York, 1948, vol. 2, pp. 691–92, no. 1869, ill.
Charles Sterling. "XV–XVIII Centuries." The Metropolitan Museum of Art: A Catalogue of French Paintings. 1, Cambridge, Mass., 1955, pp. 174–75, ill., states that it was painted in Rome between late January and May 12, 1756 for l'abbé Gougenot, and that Prince Demidoff—who lived in the same house with Greuze—probably bought it from Gougenot; notes that its very minute treatment emulates seventeenth-century Dutch and Flemish genre painters.
Anita Brookner. "Jean-Baptiste Greuze – I." Burlington Magazine 98 (May 1956), p. 158, fig. 34 (engraving erroneously labeled as the painting), illustrates the Moitte engraving after Mieris (fig. 35) that inspired Greuze and comments on the Dutch and Flemish influence.
Edgar Munhall. "Greuze." PhD diss., Yale University, 1959, part 2, pp. 8–11, 13 nn. 52, 61; part 4, p. 12, suggests that M. de Stainville, the French ambassador in Rome, may have purchased this picture; states that it was the first Greuze painted after he settled in Rome on January 28, 1756, and that it was finished by the time of Barthélemy's letter of May 12; sees in the detailed setting the inspiration of Dutch engravings and in the soft and artificial details the influence of Boucher's pastels; observes that engravings of "The Broken Eggs" and "The Neapolitan Gesture" were sold together as pendants.
Willibald Sauerländer. "Pathosfiguren im Oeuvre des Jean-Baptiste Greuze." Walter Friedlaender zum 90. Geburtstag. Berlin, 1965, pp. 148–49, pl. 30, fig. 5, discusses Netherlandish and classical sources, commenting that the pose of the young man recalls the Farnese Hercules.
Anita Brookner. Greuze: The Rise and Fall of an Eighteenth-century Phenomenon. Greenwich, Conn., 1972, pp. 58–59, 80, 97–98, 144, fig. 16, states that the duchesse de Grammont, sister of M. de Stainville, bought this picture from Greuze in Rome, and that "sexual innuendo here reigns supreme," though the picture is based on an engraving by Moitte after Mieris.
Pierre Rosenberg. The Age of Louis XV: French Painting, 1710–1774. Exh. cat., Toledo Museum of Art. [Toledo], 1975, p. 4, mentions the price at the San Donato sale as an example of collector infatuation with eighteenth-century painting after 1869.
Edgar Munhall. Jean-Baptiste Greuze, 1725–1805. Exh. cat.Hartford, 1976, pp. 20, 40–41, no. 9, ill., notes that the same models posed for the 1757 pendant, "The Neapolitan Gesture".
Mario Amaya. "The Moralist: J.-B. Greuze." Art in America (November–December 1976), pp. 85–86.
Stuart Preston. "The Revaluation of Greuze." Apollo 105 (February 1977), p. 139, fig. 9.
Antoine Schnapper. "Greuze: Un précurseur?" Connaissance des arts no. 304 (June 1977), p. 87.
Rüdiger Klessmann. "The Wadsworth Atheneum. Ausstellung: Jean-Baptiste Greuze." Pantheon 35, no. 2 (1977), p. 175.
Robert Rosenblum. "The Greuze Exhibition at Hartford and Elsewhere." Burlington Magazine 119 (February 1977), p. 146, addresses the importance of the exhibition; sees in our picture and its pendant a "polarized structure of emotional conflict that prefigures David".
Antoine Schnapper. "Review of Edgar Munhall, 'Jean Baptiste Greuze,' 1977." Art Bulletin 60, no. 2 (June 1978), p. 374.
Michael Fried. Absorption and Theatricality: Painting and Beholder in the Age of Diderot. Berkeley, 1980, pp. 35, 191, n. 66, p. 200, n. 120, ill. p. 36, believes our picture and "La parasseuse italienne" represent the "absorptive concerns" of the eighteenth century in their depictions of sleep-related subjects and moods of "lassitude, reverie, and psychological absence".
Otto Naumann. Frans van Mieris (1635–1681) the Elder. Doornspijk, The Netherlands, 1981, vol. 2, p. 19, notes that an engraving in reverse by Moitte after Meiris was the inspiration; adds that an inscription on the print alludes to the symbolism of the broken egg.
James Thompson. "A Study by Greuze for Broken Eggs." Metropolitan Museum Journal 17 (1984), pp. 47–48, ill., discusses a chalk drawing in the Albertina, Vienna, that is a study for the boy; argues that, rather than uncomprehending or innocent, he is in fact a "solemn witness to the impossibility of repairing what is broken".
Heather McPherson. "Jean-Baptiste Greuze's Italian Sojourn, 1755–57." Studies in Eighteenth Century Culture 14 (1985), pp. 94, 100–106, fig. 4, ill., argues that Greuze's Italian sojourn was highly significant in the development of his moralizing genre subjects; compares the girl's pose to Caravaggio's "Magdalen" (Galleria Doria-Pamphilj, Rome); notes that Greuze attempted to ennoble ordinary subjects, and suggests that the flattened, friezelike composition, and intensity of emotion and gesture anticipate his "Septimius Severus and Caracalla" of 1769.
Philip Conisbee. Chardin. Oxford, 1986, pp. 214–15, mentions it as an example of the moralizing dramas that appealed to Salon audiences at the time and relates it to Boucher's "The Pretty Kitchen-maid".
Edgar Munhall. "The Variety of Genres in the Work of Jean-Baptiste Greuze, 1725–1805." Porticus (1987–1988), p. 22, notes that our picture prompted one contemporary critic to suggest that Greuze try his hand at the more elevated genre of history painting.
Andrzej Pienkos. "'L'Oiseleur' et les trois autres 'Tableaux dans le costume italien.' Quelques remarques sur l'oeuvre de jeunesse de Jean-Baptiste Greuze." Bulletin du Musée National de Varsovie 28, no. 1–2 (1987), pp. 1, 3–4, 6, 11–13, ill., discusses the diversity of sources for the "tableaux dans le costume italien"; notes that the background of "Broken Eggs" resembles interiors by Maes and Dou.
Carol S. Eliel in 1789: French Art During the Revolution. Exh. cat., Colnaghi. New York, 1989, p. 61 n. 28.
James Thompson. "Jean-Baptiste Greuze." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 47 (Winter 1989/90), pp. 14, 21, figs. 11–13 (color, overall and details), and color details on front and back cover, cites it as the first in a series of works in which a shattered object symbolizes lost chastity; stresses the importance of the bow and arrow on which the child leans and describes him as a "solemn, plainclothes Cupid, silently commenting on the irreparable consequences of erotic abandon".
Emma Barker. "Greuze and the Painting of Sentiment: The Family in French Art 1755–1785." PhD diss., Courtauld Institute of Art, 1994, vol. 1, pp. 283, 487, ill., contrasts it with Greuze's later works dealing with the theme of errant daughters.
Edgar Munhall in The Dictionary of Art. 13, New York, 1996, p. 639–40, ill.
JoLynn Edwards. Alexandre-Joseph Paillet: Expert et marchand de tableaux à la fin du XVIIIe siècle. Paris, 1996, pp. 56, 313, ill. p. 58.
Richard Rand et al. Intimate Encounters: Love and Domesticity in Eighteenth-Century France. Exh. cat., Hood Museum of Art. Hanover, N.H., 1997, pp. 57, 79, 150–51 n. 6, pp. 190–91 n. 1, ill.
Colin B. Bailey. Jean-Baptiste Greuze: The Laundress. Los Angeles, 2000, p. 5, fig. 2 (color), notes that the genre pictures painted in Rome circulated in Paris prior to the 1757 Salon, and "impressed observers not only by their naturalism and local color, but, more importantly, by their considerable seriousness and ambition".
Mark Ledbury. Sedaine, Greuze and the Boundaries of Genre. Oxford, 2000, p. 125 n. 3, pp. 135–37, 176, pl. 14, addresses Greuze's awkward rendering of bodily proportion; discusses his interest in "the salacious and a seeming determination to avoid the historical and heroic in favour of the anecdotal and the theatrical"; notes that the two scenes "can easily be read as a narrative of seduction and its aftermath familiar from popular theatre".
Edgar Munhall. Greuze the Draftsman. Exh. cat.London, 2002, p. 50, ill. (detail).
Colin B. Bailey in The Age of Watteau, Chardin, and Fragonard: Masterpieces of French Genre Painting. Exh. cat., National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa. New Haven, 2003, pp. 248–50, 366, no. 64, ill. (color).
Mary D. Sheriff. Moved by Love: Inspired Artists and Deviant Women in Eighteenth-Century France. Chicago, 2004, pp. 209–10, fig. 55.
Bernadette Fort. "The Greuze Girl: The Invention of a Pictorial Paradigm." French Genre Painting in the Eighteenth Century. Washington, 2007, pp. 131–33, 147 nn. 13, 20, 23, fig. 2, notes that that the servant in Broken Eggs "is, literally, a 'fallen' girl'" by comparison with the bejeweled upper-class young lady in "The Neapolitan Gesture" disdainfully dismissing her suitor; asserts that the scenes "are intended for connoisseurs who enjoy decoding visual signifiers, as well as the tension they produce between a proffered moral message and its witty deconstruction"; suggests that the artist used the same model here and in his "Lazy Italian Maid" of 1655 (National Gallery, London).
Mark Ledbury. "Greuze in Limbo: Being 'Betwixt and Between'." French Genre Painting in the Eighteenth Century. Washington, 2007, p. 187, ill. p. 178 and fig. 14 (color, overall and detail), discusses it in the context of Greuze's other images of a seduced woman, remarking that playful references to the penitent Magdalen "point to a scenario of remorse, not passage".