“The white period” is illustrated by the composition Peasant Woman with Distaff. The artist captures the light in the paint and spreads it all over the canvas. The contrast between the barely sketched elements of landscape and the delicate touches that dwell upon the young woman also bring light. White is the colour Grigorescu favours to the detriment of other colours in his endeavour to turn it into a means of rendering light.


  • Title: Peasant Woman with Distaff
  • Date: cca. 1900
  • Physical Location: Brukenthal National Museum, Sibiu, Romania
  • Physical Dimensions: w47,5 x h65 cm (Without frame)
  • Artist Biography: Nicolae Grigorescu, one of the founders of modern Romanian painting, broke with the ambiance and with the obsolete formulas of academism. Grigorescu did not study only in Paris, he spent a lot of time in Barbizon, the melting pot of the new language of European painting, where he had the epiphany of the new perspectives. He assimilated the influences of artists like Millet, Corot, Courbet and Theodor Rousseau. Seeking an innovative artistic language he was open to impressionistic suggestions which, with talent and sensitiveness, he engrafted on the traditional Romanian expressiveness. At the 1867 Paris Universal Exhibition, Emperor Napoleon III bought one of his paintings, Gypsy Woman. This was probably his ticket to all the official salons in the following two years. Three years later, at the Exhibition of Living Artists, he was discovered by Elizabeth, future Queen of Romania, who purchased some of his paintings thus bringing him even more to the public eye. Summoned to do his duty as a soldier, Grigorescu became a war reporter; which would bring the theme of the war and of the Romanian soldier in his creation in the years to come. Between 1879 and 1890, he worked more in France than anywhere else, and kept in contact with the effervescent artistic centres of Europe. A very prolific artist, his paintings were seen in many exhibitions in France and in Romania and he became even more popular and famous. In 1881, in Bucharest he displayed 200 works in a personal exhibition. They were solid proof of his command of the impressionistic technique and language. Typical Romanian themes, portraits of young peasants and peasant women, ox carts, often appear in his creation as a result of the time he spent in Romania. With them, Grigorescu, solar, vital, optimistic, becomes a symbol for the Romanian spirituality. The artist had a remarkable ability to explore the values of light and colour as they were understood by modern painting, choosing a realism which does not distort nature rather than resorting to extreme formulas. In 1899, Nicolae Grigorescu was made Honorary Member of the Romanian Academy. It was an expression of gratitude for his overwhelming contribution to the evolution of Romanian painting.
  • Provenance: Brukenthal National Museum
  • Type: Painting
  • Medium: oil on canvas

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