Jean-Baptiste Greuze was a French genre painter known for his moralizing scenes. He was a master at educating the viewer and impressing them with his soft, skillful application of paint which sugarcoated an often serious subject. Broken Eggs is one of his most well-known pictures and hangs at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which houses one of the most extensive Greuze collections in the world.
This cottage interior scene is symmetrically balanced yet also dramatic at the same time and exhibits Greuze’s good humored lesson in virtue. At the center, a young man is scolded by an older woman, who points to the glum-looking girl (her daughter or granddaughter) sitting on the floor. The young girl has flushed, chubby cheeks and sits next to an overturned basket of eggs with broken shells and yolks spilling out. These eggs literally symbolize her cracked and over-easy innocence, and we are led to presume that the young man has just taken her virginity. Love is still in the air with a country cupid close by: a little blond boy sits in the right corner and tries to reassemble one of the broken eggs. His tiny toy bow and arrow lie next to him as he makes a mess of everything.
Quite a bit of art from the 18th century is about sex in one way or another, so Greuze’s in-your-face messaging would have been obvious to his contemporary viewers. Also obvious is your need for this super-easy shakshuka. This recipe is perfect for practically any meal; I love it for breakfast, lunch or dinner! Or cook it up on a weekend for the perfect brunch base – nice and healthy to compliment the mimosas you should serve alongside it! No matter when you serve this dish, you’ll love the rich, spicy tomatoes and runny eggs. Don’t forget bread to dip in the sauce!
Recipe adapted from the New York Times
Featured art: Jean-Baptiste Greuze, Broken Eggs, 1756, oil on canvas