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A Girl with a Dead Canary

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A Girl with a Dead Canary 1765


This oval painting is typical of a type perfected by Greuze which played on the viewer's emotions. Here we are invited to sympathise with the young girl grieving over her dead canary. Such subjects had great appeal for Greuze's contemporaries and the painting attracted much critical attention when it was exhibited at the Salon in 1765. Greuze emphasises the girl's facial expression and also the textural contrasts between her scarf, the flowers, the wooden cage and the dead canary. The yellow glaze Greuze used has become transparent with age so the canary appears white, and what should be green foliage has become blue.

Glossary Open

Paris Salon

The Paris Salon was the official exhibiting space of the French Academy. Established in 1673 it moved to the Salon d'Apollon at the Louvre in 1725, when it became known as the ‘Salon de Paris’. In 1737 the annual exhibitions were made public and artists were invited to submit their work before a jury. Exhibiting at the Salon and receiving official recognition were vital for an artist's career. In the late 19th century artists became disillusioned with the jury system and its influence declined as a number of independent exhibiting societies were established. The government withdraw its official support in 1881.

Paris Salon


  • Acc. No. NG 435
  • Medium Oil on canvas
  • Size Oval: 53.30 x 46.00 cm (framed: 79.00 x 71.30 x 10.00 cm)
  • Credit Bequest of Lady Murray of Henderland 1861