Jean-Antoine Watteau

Jean-Antoine Watteau (French: [ʒɑ̃ ɑ̃twan vato]; baptised October 10, 1684 – died July 18, 1721),[2] better known as Antoine Watteau, was a French painter whose brief career spurred the revival of interest in colour and movement, as seen in the tradition of Correggio and Rubens. He revitalized the waning Baroque style, shifting it to the less severe, more naturalistic, less formally classical, Rococo. Watteau is credited with inventing the genre of fêtes galantes, scenes of bucolic and idyllic charm, suffused with a theatrical air. Some of his best known subjects were drawn from the world of Italian comedy and ballet.

Antoine Watteau
Rosalba Carriera Portrait Antoine Watteau
Watteau in the last year of his life, by Rosalba Carriera, 1721.
Jean-Antoine Watteau

baptised October 10, 1684
DiedJuly 18, 1721 (aged 36)
Known forPainting and architecture
Notable work
Embarkation for Cythera, 1718/19
L'Enseigne de Gersaint, 1720/21

Early life and training

Watteau was born in October 1684 in the town of Valenciennes[1] which had recently passed from the Spanish Netherlands to France. His father, Jean-Philippe Watteau, was a roofer given to brawling.[3] Showing an early interest in painting, Jean-Antoine may have been apprenticed to Jacques-Albert Gérin, a local painter.[1] Jean-Antoine's first artistic subjects were charlatans selling quack remedies on the streets of Valenciennes.[1] Watteau left for Paris in 1702.[4] There he found employment in a workshop at Pont Notre-Dame, making copies of popular genre paintings in the Flemish and Dutch tradition; it was in that period that he developed his characteristic sketchlike technique.

By 1705 he was employed as an assistant by the painter Claude Gillot, whose work represented a reaction against the turgid official art of Louis XIV's reign.[5] In Gillot's studio Watteau became acquainted with the characters of the commedia dell'arte (its actors had been expelled from France in 1697), a favorite subject of Gillot's that would become one of Watteau's lifelong passions.[2]

Afterward he moved to the workshop of Claude Audran III, an interior decorator, under whose influence he began to make drawings admired for their consummate elegance. Audran was the curator of the Palais du Luxembourg, where Watteau was able to see the magnificent series of canvases painted by Peter Paul Rubens for Queen Marie de Medici. The Flemish painter would become one of his major influences, together with the Venetian masters he would later study in the collection of his patron and friend, the banker Pierre Crozat.[2]

Later career

Antoine Watteau - Pleasures of Love - Google Art Project
Pleasures of Love (1718–1719)
Antoine Watteau - The Feast of Love - Google Art Project
The Feast (or Festival) of Love (1718–1719)
L'Embarquement pour Cythere, by Antoine Watteau, from C2RMF retouched
The Embarkation for Cythera, 1717, Louvre. Many commentators note that it depicts a departure from the island of Cythera, the birthplace of Venus, thus symbolizing the brevity of love.

In 1709 Watteau tried to obtain the Prix de Rome and was rejected by the Academy.[6] In 1712 he tried again and was considered so good that, rather than receiving the one-year stay in Rome for which he had applied, he was accepted as a full member of the Academy.[7] He took five years to deliver the required "reception piece", but it was one of his masterpieces: the Pilgrimage to Cythera, also called the Embarkation for Cythera.[8]

Watteau lacked aristocratic patrons; his buyers were bourgeois such as bankers and dealers. Among his most famous paintings, beside the two versions of the Pilgrimage to Cythera, one in the Louvre, the other in the Schloss Charlottenburg, Berlin, are Pierrot (long identified as "Gilles"), Fêtes venitiennes, Love in the Italian Theater, Love in the French Theater, "Voulez-vous triompher des belles?" and Mezzetin. The subject of his hallmark painting, Pierrot (Gilles), is an actor in a white satin costume who stands isolated from his four companions, staring ahead with an enigmatic expression on his face.[9]

Watteau's final masterpiece, the Shop-sign of Gersaint, exits the pastoral forest locale for a mundane urban set of encounters. Painted at Watteau's own insistence, "in eight days, working only in the mornings ... in order to warm up his fingers",[10] this sign for the shop in Paris of the paintings dealer Edme François Gersaint is effectively the final curtain of Watteau's theatre. It has been compared with Las Meninas as a meditation on art and illusion.[10] The scene is an art gallery where the façade has magically vanished, and the gallery and street in the canvas are fused into one contiguous drama.[11]

Watteau alarmed his friends by a carelessness about his future and financial security, as if foreseeing he would not live for long. In fact he had been sickly and physically fragile since childhood. In 1720, he travelled to London, England, to consult Dr. Richard Mead, one of the most fashionable physicians of his time and an admirer of Watteau's work. However, London's damp and smoky air offset any benefits of Dr. Mead's wholesome food and medicines. Watteau returned to France and spent his last few months on the estate of his patron, Abbé Haranger, where he died in 1721, perhaps from tuberculous laryngitis, at the age of 36. The Abbé said Watteau was semi-conscious and mute during his final days, clutching a paint brush and painting imaginary paintings in the air.[12]

His nephew, Louis Joseph Watteau, son of Antoine's brother Noël Joseph Watteau (1689–1756), and grand nephew, François-Louis-Joseph Watteau, son of Louis, followed Antoine into painting.

Critical assessment and legacy

Little known during his lifetime beyond a small circle of his devotees, Watteau "was mentioned but seldom in contemporary art criticism and then usually reprovingly".[13] Sir Michael Levey once noted that Watteau "created, unwittingly, the concept of the individualistic artist loyal to himself, and himself alone". If his immediate followers, Lancret and Pater, would depict the unabashed frillery of aristocratic romantic pursuits, Watteau in a few masterpieces anticipates an art about art, the world of art as seen through the eyes of an artist. In contrast to the Rococo whimsicality and licentiousness cultivated by Boucher and Fragonard in the later part of Louis XV's reign, Watteau's theatrical panache is usually tinged with a note of sympathy, wistfulness, and sadness at the transience of love and other earthly delights.[14] Famously, the Victorian essayist Walter Pater wrote of Watteau: "He was always a seeker after something in the world, that is there in no satisfying measure, or not at all."[15]

Watteau was a prolific draftsman. His drawings, typically executed in trois crayons technique, were collected and admired even by those, such as Caylus or Gersaint, who found fault with his paintings.[2] In 1726 and 1728, Jean de Jullienne published suites of etchings after Watteau's drawings, and in 1735 he published a series of engravings after his paintings, The Recueil Jullienne.[2] The quality of the reproductions, using a mixture of engraving and etching following the practice of the Rubens engravers, varied according to the skill of the people employed by Jullienne, but was often very high. Such a comprehensive record was hitherto unparalleled.[2] This helped disseminate his influence round Europe and into the decorative arts.

Watteau's influence on the arts (not only painting, but the decorative arts, costume, film, poetry, music) was more extensive than that of almost any other 18th-century artist. The Watteau dress, a long, sacklike dress with loose pleats hanging from the shoulder at the back, similar to those worn by many of the women in his paintings, is named after him. According to the 1911 Britannica, "in his treatment of the landscape background and of the atmospheric surroundings of the figures can be found the germs of Impressionism". His influence on later generations of painters may have been less apparent in France than in England, where J.M.W. Turner was among his admirers.[16] A revived vogue for Watteau began in England during the British Regency, and was later encapsulated by the Goncourt brothers and the World of Art.

In 1984 Watteau societies were created in Paris, by Jean Ferré, and London, by Dr. Selby Whittingham. A major exhibition in Paris, Washington and Berlin commemorated the 1984 tercentenary of his birth. Since 2000 a Watteau centre has been established at Valenciennes by Professor Chris Rauseo. A catalogue of his drawings has been compiled by Pierre Rosenberg, replacing the one by Sir Karl Parker, and Alan Wintermute is preparing one for his paintings.


Watteau Polish woman

Polish woman

Jean-Antoine Watteau - Pierrot, dit autrefois Gilles

Watteau's commedia dell'arte player of Pierrot, ca 1718–19, traditionally identified as "Gilles" (Louvre)

Watteau, Antoine - Quellnymphe - 1708


Jean-Antoine Watteau - The Love Song

The Love Song

Antoine Watteau 012

The hunter, National Gallery of Scotland

Antoine Watteau - The Dance - WGA25477

The Dance

WatteauLes Fetesvenitiennes

Feast in Venice

Antoine Watteau - The Love Lesson - Google Art Project

The Love Lesson

Antoine Watteau 001

Les Plaisirs du bal

Jean-Antoine Watteau La Surprise, oil on panel

La Surprise, c. 1718.

Antoine Watteau 030

La Boudeuse from the Hermitage Museum: "Flirting coquettishly yet innocently, the artist's imaginary heroes – the deliberately indifferent lady and her insistently attentive cavalier – are shown with gentle irony. Their fragile, elegant world is dominated by a lyrical mood with just a touch of elegiac melancholy."[17]

Antoine Watteau - The Italian Comedians - Google Art Project

The Italian Comedians, 1721

Antoine Watteau - L'imbarco per Citera

Pilgrimage to Cythera is an embellished repetition of his painting of 1717, and exemplifies the frivolity and sensuousness of Rococo painting. (1721, Berlin)

Watteau, Jean-Antoine - Fete Champetre - Google Art Project

Fete Champetre, 1722


L'Enseigne de Gersaint (1720): In one of Watteau's last paintings, the portrait of Louis XIV and his own artworks are being packed away. The painter had no reason to expect that his name would be remembered long.

Antoine Watteau, Ceres (Summer), c. 1717-1718, NGA 46149

Ceres (Summer), c. 1717-1718, National Gallery of Art


  1. ^ a b c d Levey, Michael. (1993) Painting and sculpture in France 1700-1789. New Haven: Yale University Press, p. 29. ISBN 0300064942
  2. ^ a b c d e f Wine, Humphrey, and Annie Scottez-De Wambrechies. "Watteau" in Grove Art Online. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 8 February 2014.
  3. ^ Grasselli, Margaret Morgan, Pierre Rosenberg, Nicole Parmantier, and Antoine Watteau. 1984. Watteau, 1684-1721. Washington: National Gallery of Art. p. 17. ISBN 0894680749.
  4. ^ Grasselli, Margaret Morgan, Pierre Rosenberg, Nicole Parmantier, and Antoine Watteau. 1984. Watteau, 1684-1721. Washington: National Gallery of Art. p. 19. ISBN 0894680749.
  5. ^ Michel, Marianne Roland. "Gillot, Claude". Grove Art Online. Oxford Art Online. Oxford University Press. Web. 10 Apr. 2016.
  6. ^ Grasselli, Margaret Morgan, Pierre Rosenberg, Nicole Parmantier, and Antoine Watteau. 1984. Watteau, 1684-1721. Washington: National Gallery of Art. p. 20. ISBN 0894680749.
  7. ^ Grasselli, Margaret Morgan, Pierre Rosenberg, Nicole Parmantier, and Antoine Watteau. 1984. Watteau, 1684-1721. Washington: National Gallery of Art. p. 21. ISBN 0894680749.
  8. ^ Grasselli, Margaret Morgan, Pierre Rosenberg, Nicole Parmantier, and Antoine Watteau. 1984. Watteau, 1684-1721. Washington: National Gallery of Art. p. 396. ISBN 0894680749.
  9. ^ Grasselli, Margaret Morgan, Pierre Rosenberg, Nicole Parmantier, and Antoine Watteau. 1984. Watteau, 1684-1721. Washington: National Gallery of Art. pp. 429–434. ISBN 0894680749.
  10. ^ a b Watteau, Antoine, Katharine Baetjer, and Georgia Cowart. 2009. Watteau, Music, and Theater. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art. p. 6. ISBN 9781588393357.
  11. ^ Schwartz, Sanford. 1990. Artists and Writers. New York: Yarrow Press. pp. 140–141. ISBN 1-878274-01-5
  12. ^ Dormandy, Thomas. "The White Death: The History of Tuberculosis". New York University Press, 2000. p.11.
  13. ^ Arnold Hauser. Rococo, Classicism and Romanticism. Routledge (UK), 1999. p. 21.
  14. ^ Cunningham, Lawrence, and John J. Reich. 2010. Culture and Values: A Survey of the Western Humanities. Boston, MA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning. p. 399. ISBN 9780495568773.
  15. ^ Pater, Walter (1885). "A Prince of Court Painters". Macmillan's Magazine. 52: 401–4114 – via Google Books.
  16. ^ Gowing, Lawrence, and Michel Laclotte. 1987. Paintings in the Louvre. New York: Stewart, Tabori & Chang. p. 506. ISBN 1556700075.
  17. ^ "La Boudeuse (The Capricious Girl)". The State Hermitage Museum. Retrieved September 27, 2017.


External links



was a leap year starting on Saturday of the Gregorian calendar and a leap year starting on Tuesday of the Julian calendar, the 1684th year of the Common Era (CE) and Anno Domini (AD) designations, the 684th year of the 2nd millennium, the 84th year of the 17th century, and the 5th year of the 1680s decade. As of the start of 1684, the Gregorian calendar was

10 days ahead of the Julian calendar, which remained in localized use until 1923.

1721 in art

Events from the year 1721 in art.

Actors of the Comédie-Française

Coquettes qui pour voir galans au rendez vous (transl. "Coquettish women, who to meet gallant men go around..."), usually referred to in Russian sources as Actors of the Comédie-Française, is an oil on panel painting in the Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg, by French painter Jean-Antoine Watteau, an important artist of the Rococo style. A part of the Crozat collection, the work was acquired by Catherine II of Russia in 1772 and then held among the Russian imperial family collections in the Winter Palace and later in the Gatchina Palace; in 1920, the painting was transitioned in the Winter Palace, where it currently remains as part of the Hermitage Museum permanent exhibition. Throughout its provenance, the work has also been known under a number of various titles before studies of Watteau's drawings in the 20th century established a possible identity.

The painting is a rare example of a group portrait which depicts five figures with four of them presumed to be and identified as members of the Comédie-Française in their roles from Florent Carton Dancourt's play The Three Cousins: Charlotte Desmares, a mistress of the Duke of Orléans; Philippe Poisson, Pierre Le Noir, a son of La Thorillière and brother-in-law of Dancourt; and Adrienne Lecouvreur, a mistress of Maurice de Saxe; the sole other figure is an unknown black boy (presumed to be Pierre Crozat's servant, also appearing in The Conversation and The Music Party).

Country Dance

A country dance is a social dance form in which two or more couples dance together in a set.

Country Dance may also refer to:

Country Dance (film), a 1970 British drama film

The Country Dance, a painting by Jean-Antoine Watteau

François-Louis-Joseph Watteau

François Louis Joseph Watteau (18 August 1758, Lille – 1 December 1823, Lille), known like his father as the Watteau of Lille, was a French painter, active in his birthplace. He was the son of the painter Louis Joseph Watteau (1731–1798) and grandson of Noël Joseph Watteau (1689–1756) – Noël was the brother of Jean-Antoine Watteau, the painter of "fêtes galantes". From 1808 to his death he was deputy curator of the Palais des Beaux-Arts de Lille, which his father had helped to found.

Julien Bogousslavsky

Julien Bogousslavsky (born May 1, 1954 in Paris, France) is a Swiss neurologist who has been Chief of Neurology and Neurorehabilitation Services at Clinique Valmont, a hospital in Montreux, Switzerland, since 2006. He is also the medical head at the Center for Brain and Nervous System Diseases and an invited professor at the University of Franche-Comté in France.His father was Serge Bogousslavsky, an art thief known for stealing the Jean Antoine Watteau painting L'Indifferent from the Louvre in 1939. He was educated at the University of Geneva, graduating in 1978. He became a consultant neurologist at Lausanne University Hospital in 1984.In 1990, Bogousslavsky co-founded the European Stroke Conference, and served as chairman of the European Stroke Council from 1998 to 2000.On March 12, 2009, Bogousslavsky was found guilty of multiple fraud charges, including one of embezzling the equivalent of almost US$7.6 million. At his 2010 trial, he was sentenced to two years in prison and fined 70,000 euros.

L'Enseigne de Gersaint

L'Enseigne de Gersaint (transl. "The Shop Sign of Gersaint") is an oil on canvas painting in the Charlottenburg Palace in Berlin, by French painter Jean-Antoine Watteau. Completed during 1720–21, it is considered to be the last prominent work of Watteau, who died some time after. It was painted as a shop sign for the marchand-mercier, or art dealer, Edme François Gersaint. According to Daniel Roche the sign functioned more as an advertisement for the artist than the dealer.The painting exaggerates the size of Gersaint's cramped boutique, hardly more than a permanent booth with a little backshop, on the medieval Pont Notre-Dame, in the heart of Paris, both creating and following fashion as he purveyed works of art and luxurious trifles to an aristocratic clientele.

La Promenade (Renoir)

La Promenade is an oil on canvas, early Impressionist painting by the French artist Pierre-Auguste Renoir, created in 1870. The work depicts a young couple on an excursion outside of the city, walking on a path through a woodland. Influenced by the rococo revival style during the Second Empire, Renoir's La Promenade reflects the older style and themes of eighteenth-century artists like Jean-Honoré Fragonard and Jean-Antoine Watteau. The work also shows the influence of Claude Monet on Renoir's new approach to painting.

Louis Joseph Watteau

Louis Joseph Watteau (10 April 1731 - 17 August 1798), known as the Watteau of Lille (a title also given to his son) was a French painter active in Lille.

Watteau was born in Valenciennes. His father Noël Joseph Watteau (1689-1756) was brother to Jean-Antoine Watteau, the painter of fêtes galantes, and he was himself father to the painter François Watteau.

He played a decisive role in the foundation of what would become the musée lillois des Beaux-Arts, opened in 1803, by producing the first ever inventory of paintings confiscated by the state during the French Revolution.

He died in Lille, aged 67.

Musée Cognacq-Jay

The Musée Cognacq-Jay is a museum located in the Hôtel Donon in the 3rd arrondissement at 8 rue Elzévir, Paris, France. It is open daily except Monday; admission is free. The nearest Metro stations are Saint-Paul and Chemin Vert.

The museum's collection was formed between 1900–1925 by Théodore-Ernest Cognacq (1839–1928) and his wife Marie-Louise Jay (1838–1925), founders of La Samaritaine department store. At his death, Cognacq gave the collection to the City of Paris, which in 1929 inaugurated the Musée Cognacq-Jay at 25 boulevard des Capucines, a building especially conceived for it by the Cognacq couple, who wished to display the collection in the intimacy of a seemingly inhabited home, without the conventions of a museum. In 1990 however, the City, arguing that the Boulevard des Capucines was not part of a "cultural circuit", sought the approval of the legal heirs (the owners of La Samaritaine), and, under silent disagreement of the Cognacq-Jay family, moved the collection to the ill-fitting Hôtel Donon (c. 1575) in the Marais, where the collection is displayed in twenty paneled rooms (four floors) in the styles of Louis XV and Louis XVI. The renovation work of the Hôtel Donon was led by Paris' chief architect Bernard Fonquernie, whilst the interior renovation was done by Reoven Vardi.

The museum contains an exceptional collection of fine art and decorative items, about 1200 items in total, with an emphasis on 18th century France, ranging from European and Chinese ceramics, jewels, and snuffboxes, to paintings by Louis-Léopold Boilly, François Boucher, Canaletto, Jean-Siméon Chardin, Jean-Honoré Fragonard, Jean-Baptiste Greuze, Maurice Quentin de La Tour, Sir Thomas Lawrence, Hubert Robert, Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, and Jean-Antoine Watteau; sculpture by Jean-Antoine Houdon, Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne, and Jacques-François-Joseph Saly; and fine furniture attributed to Jean-François Oeben and Roger Vandercruse Lacroix. 17th century is also represented, notably with two paintings by Rembrandt while 19th century is represented with works by Camille Corot, Paul Cézanne and also Edgar Degas.

The Cognacq-Jay Museum is one of the 14 City of Paris' Museums that have been incorporated since 1 January 2013 in the public institution Paris Musées.

Musée des Beaux-Arts de Valenciennes

The musée des beaux-arts de Valenciennes is a municipal museum in the French town of Valenciennes. Its collections originated as the collection of the Académie valenciennoise de peinture et de sculpture. It opened to the public for the first time in 1801 and was moved into the town hall in 1834.

A competition to design a new building was held at the end of the 19th century, won by Paul Dusart. The new building was opened on 27 June 1909 and in 1995 was totally renovated and the display space expanded, with the addition of a basement displaying archaeological remains and artefacts.

As well as paintings, it includes several sculptures by Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux (1827–1875), born in the town, as well as a prints and drawings department and

Nicolas Vleughels

Nicolas Vleughels (1668, Paris - 1737, Rome) was a French painter. In his role as director of the French Academy in Rome, which he held from 1724 until his death, he played a pivotal role in the interchange between France and Italy in the first third of the 18th century.

Pastoral Pleasure

Pastoral Pleasure (French - Le Plaisir pastoral) is a c.1714–1716 fête galante painting by Jean Antoine Watteau, now in the musée Condé in Chantilly. Two other Watteau paintings survive with extremely similar compositions - the largest and most finished is The Shepherds (Schloss Charlottenburg), whilst another seems to be a reworking of the Charlottenburg painting (Wildenstein collection). Pierre Rosenberg argues that the Chantilly version was an oil sketch for the Charlottenburg work. Three other copies of the Chantilly version appeared in 19th and 20th century auctions, but their locations are now unknown.The Chantilly work belonged to Pierre-Jean Mariette, a great Watteau collector – it is mentioned as being in his house from at least 1729, around which time Nicolas-Henri Tardieu made an engraving after it. On 1 February 1775 it was sold after Mariette's death. According to Edmond Goncourt, it was resold in Paris on 11 May 1789, entering the marquis de Maison's collection, which was acquired in its entirety by the duc d'Aumale in 1868 whilst in exile in the United Kingdom. After moving back to France he hung the work in his château de Chantilly, where it still hangs in the musée Condé.

Philibert Orry

Philibert Orry, count of Vignory and lord of La Chapelle-Godefroy (born in Troyes on 22 January 1689 – died at La Chapelle-Godefroy on 9 November 1747), was a French statesman.

The Chord (painting)

The Chord (French - L'Accord) is a c.1715 painting by Antoine Watteau, now in the musée Condé in Chantilly. It is sometimes also known as Mezzetino (Mézetin; after the commedia dell'arte character Mezzetino) or The Serenader (Le Donneur de sérénades).

The Country Dance

The Country Dance is an oil painting by French artist Jean-Antoine Watteau, located in the Indianapolis Museum of Art, which is in Indianapolis, Indiana. Probably one of Watteau's earliest painting, created roughly 1706-1710, it depicts a group of quite courtly peasants dancing among the trees.

The Embarkation for Cythera

The Embarkation for Cythera ("L'Embarquement pour Cythère") is a painting by the French painter Jean-Antoine Watteau. It is also known as Voyage to Cythera and Pilgrimage to the Isle of Cythera. Watteau submitted this work to the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture as his reception piece in 1717. The painting is now in the Louvre in Paris. A second version of the work, sometimes called Pilgrimage to Cythera to distinguish it, was painted by Watteau about 1718 or 1719 and is in the Charlottenburg Palace, Berlin.

The Worried Lover

The Worried Lover (French - L'Amante inquiète) is a c.1715-1717 painting by Jean Antoine Watteau. A preparatory drawing now entitled Two studies of a seated woman (private collection) exactly matches the pose of the woman in the painting. Watteau also made an etching showing a woman seated in a very similar pose. Single figures were common in his work and also appear in La Finette, L'Indifférent and The Dreamer. According to Jean Ferré, the cut roses in the painting are a symbol of "consumed love".

The painting was originally owned by abbé Haranger, canon of Saint-Germain-l'Auxerrois in Paris and one of Watteau's closest friends (he inherited many of the artist's drawings on his death). An engraving was made after the painting in 1729 by Pierre Aveline, printed on the same sheet as a print of Watteau's The Dreamer, then also owned by Haranger. They were either intended as pendants to each other or - according to Pierre Rosenberg - were hung together by Haranger despite not being related.

The painting featured in the sale of Lebrun's collection in Paris in 1791 and entered the marquis de Maison's collection. It and the rest of that collection were then bought by Henri d'Orleans, Duke of Aumale in 1868 during his exile in London. When he returned to France he hung it in the salle Caroline of his château de Chantilly, where it remains as part of the musée Condé collection.

Jean-Antoine Watteau

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