Incorrect Username, Email, or Password
A young woman in robes clutches her hands and looks up in fright

A young woman with pale skin and dark blue eyes faces toward us, turning her head to look up and to the right. She wears a white cloak with a rose-colored robe draped around her shoulders. She clasps her hands together up to her face, as the cloak’s hood falls back showing her long, reddish blonde hair which blows out to the right in the wind. Her mouth is open and her eyes are wide and she looks up anxiously as dark clouds fill the evening sky.

Gallery Text

Depicting emotions legibly was a fundamental principle of artistic theory and practice since the French Academy’s founding in 1648, and it was famously codified by the painter Charles Le Brun in his illustrated treatise about the passions. Since an artist’s ability to portray emotions was considered essential to the communication of meaning, the academy inaugurated a regular competition for drawing expressive heads, or "têtes d’expression," in 1760. This genre is represented extensively in Greuze’s work, particularly his drawings, which serve as artistic exercises and as preparatory studies for larger compositions. The expression of fright depicted in this panel occurs in at least two other works by the artist, one of which was the painting he exhibited at the Salon of 1800, "Young Woman Frightened by the Storm."

Identification and Creation

Object Number
Jean-Baptiste Greuze, French (Tournus 1725 - 1805 Paris)
Other Titles
Title: L'Effroi
Work Type
c. 1800
Persistent Link


Level 2, Room 2220, European and American Art, 17th–19th century, Rococo and Neoclassicism in the Eighteenth Century
View this object's location on our interactive map

Physical Descriptions

Oil on panel
45.8 x 38.1 cm (18 1/16 x 15 in.)
framed: 78 x 70 cm (30 11/16 x 27 9/16 in.)


Recorded Ownership History
Sold [commissaire-expert: Jean-Baptiste-Pierre Lebrun, Paris, Germinal 15, an VII (April 4, 1799), lot 120]. Unknown Collector, Belgium, sold [through Hotel Drouot, commissaire-priseur M. Delbergue-Cormont, December 12, 1862, lot 55]. Alexis Joseph Febvre (?-1882) sold; [through his sale Hotel Drouot, commissaire-priseur Paul Chevallier, Paris, April 17-20, 1882, lot 12, sold]; to Baron de Bournonville (1882-1883), sold [through his sale Hotel Drouot, commissaire-priseur Paul Chevallier, Paris, May 21-22, 1883, lot 18]; to [Sedelmeyer, Paris, (1883 - ?)]. Baron d'Erlanger, Leipzig, sold [through Knight, Frank, & Rutley's, London, March 25, 1946, lot 37]. Sold [through Christie's, London, July 8, 1983, lot 41]. Private collector, sold [through Christie's, New York, May 21, 1992, lot 90]; to Vermeer Associates, sold; to Fogg Art Museum, 1994

Acquisition and Rights

Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Richard Norton Memorial Fund
Accession Year
Object Number
European and American Art

The Harvard Art Museums encourage the use of images found on this website for personal, noncommercial use, including educational and scholarly purposes. To request a higher resolution file of this image, please submit an online request.

Publication History

  • Catalogue des Tableaux Anciens des Écoles Flamande, Hollandaise, Française, Ialaienne et Espagnole..., auct. cat., Hôtel Drouot and Delebergue-Cormont (Paris, December 12, 1862), p. 19, lot 55
  • Catalogue des Tableaux Anciens de Premier ordre, Tableaux Modernes, objets d'art et de haute curiosité composant la collection de feu M. A. Febvre, auct. cat., Hôtel Drouot, Paul Chevallier, and Henri LeChat (Paris, April 17, 1882), p. 8, lot 12, repr. (through its engraving)
  • Catalogue de Tableaux de Maitres Anciens et de Tableaux et Dessins Modernes Appartenant à M. le baron de B...., auct. cat., Hôtel Drouot and Paul Chevallier (Paris, May 21, 1883), p. 14, lot 18, repr.
  • Jean Martin and Charles Masson, Catalogue Raisonné de l'Œuvre Peint et Dessiné de Jean-Baptiste Greuze, H. Piazza (Paris, 1908), p. 31, no. 450
  • Pictures, Ivories, Bronzes and Plate, Ornamental China & Glass, auct. cat., Knight, Frank & Rutley (London, March 25, 1946), p. 6, lot 37
  • Important and Fine Old Master Paintings, auct. cat., Christie's, New York (New York, May 21, 1992), p. 146, lot 90

Exhibition History

  • 32Q: 2220 18th-19th Century, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/14/2018 - 01/01/2050

Subjects and Contexts

  • Google Art Project

Verification Level

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of European and American Art at