Puzzle of

A sentimental vision

The Village Marriage, by Jean-Baptiste Greuze. This painting used to move people to tears; it was one of the most popular works of its day.

Diderot considered this painting exemplary, part of the effort to give morality and family life a basis other than feudalism and the Church. Greuze remained extremely popular into the 19th century, though his works haven’t really been respectable in high-art circles since before the French Revolution.

I wonder whether Greuze and later popular, sentimental artists (Norman Rockwell and Thomas Kincaid are 20th-century American examples) truly form a school or tradition, learning from each other — or does each generation of such artists re-learn the principles of sentimentality, altering the high art of their day in a sentimental direction? That is, is sentimental art an example of convergent evolution, or is it a distinct, traceable lineage?

Source. The image on the Louvre website is very blue — my guess is that the color balance was automatically adjusted by image software to have “natural” skin color.

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