The painting Broken eggs was created by Jean-Baptise Greuze in 1760 and suggests the beginning of the different direction in the art of painting. His work, free of fantasy, introduces new realism – the realism of daily life. French painting during 18th century was dominated by the Rococo style that was aristocratic in nature, sensual and elegant. From stylistic point of view, it had soft colors in its palette, free brushstrokes and complex surfaces. Created for rich patrons, Rococo concentrated on portraits of aristocrats and mythological themes, often performed in a plyful and erotic manner.
Greuze’s moral dramas (one of which is the Broken eggs) reacted against Rococo. By pronouncing feelings and emotion they were also opposed by the rational and science-oriented representatives of Enlightenment. It puts Greuze’s creations exactly along with other artists in the 18th century who developed the same taste in their works– Taste for Natural. In this painting by Greuze, the artist depicts a scene from daily life of the middle class with its middle-class morality. The girl has lost her virginity to the young man who was trying to get away, but was stopped by the old lady.
The girl’s face is sad and the position of her body suggests the frustration. Her shoulders are weighed down by the heaviness of what happened to her. The broken eggs next give the narrative quality to the painting and symbolize the lost virginity. It cannot be helped, and virginity, like the eggs that little boy is trying so hard to put together in the corner, cannot be returned back. The light falls on the girl in the center of the picture, drawing viewer’s attention to the epicenter of the moral story.
The boy with the broken egg in his hands is trying very hard to fix it, his face concentrated and body language expressive. Perhaps, the painter intended to highlight the child’s naiveness, though the look in his eyes is far from childish and candid. Stylistically, the painting is performed in invisible brushstrokes, complete and rigid lines, similar to classical. The depth of space is great and many objects of peasants’ domestic life can be seen in the back. The artist made his moral point and with that he stepped aside from purely classical style of painting.