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.