Antoine Watteau

Orfeas Katsoulis | Jul 18, 2023

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Jean Antoine Watteau (10 October 1684, Valenciennes - 18 July 1721, Nozhan-sur-Marne near Paris) - French painter and draftsman, member of the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture (the outstanding master of the French Regency period, one of the founders and main representatives of the art of the Rococo. For a short period of creative life, most of which was spent in Paris, Watteau left a rich legacy: about a thousand drawings and more than 200 paintings; of the latter, in addition to landscapes, portraits, mythological, religious, battle and everyday scenes, the most famous he brought the so-called gallant scenes - group images of figures in the park space. Watteau was greatly influenced by the achievements of artists of previous eras - representatives of the Flemish, French and Italian schools on the one hand, and the realities of his contemporary culture (in particular, the interaction of the traditions of French theater and the Italian Commedia dell'arte) on the other.

Watteau's work, which was at odds with the academic tradition and with the theory of Enlightenment realism, was frowned upon by his contemporaries in the 18th century; it was more widely recognized on the wave of Romanticism and Impressionism in the 19th century; at the same time the scientific study of Watteau's life and work, which inspired artists of subsequent periods, began. A large-scale retrospective exhibition, presenting the most important milestones of Watteau's work, was held in 1984-1985 on the occasion of the three hundredth anniversary of his birth; the bibliography of works about the artist numbers over 500 titles.

Early Years and Apprenticeship

Jean Antoine Watteau was baptized on October 10, 1684 in Valenciennes, once a major center in the county of Hainaut, which became part of the Burgundian and Habsburg Netherlands and was annexed to France only shortly before the future painter's birth. Antoine - presumably of Walloon origin - was the second of four sons of the hereditary roofer Jean Philippe Watteau (1660-1720) and his wife Michel Lardenois (1653-1727), who were a rather wealthy family - Watteau senior made his way into contractors, despite his rough temper and the ensuing legal proceedings. From an early age he was addicted to drawing, and his father sent him as an apprentice to the local painter Jacques-Albert Gérin (1640-1702), a master of minor talent. According to Jean de Julien, one of the artist's friends and first biographers, "Watteau, who was ten or eleven years old at the time, studied with such enthusiasm that after a few years his mentor was no longer useful to him, for he could not properly guide him. According to other reports, the stay in the workshop of Gérin did not last long because after some time his father refused to pay for the education of his son.

Between 1700 and 1702 Antoine Watteau, against his father's wishes, leaves Valenciennes in secret and, without any means, reaches Paris on foot. His escape to Paris may have been facilitated by his acquaintance in Valenciennes with the painter-decorator Méteillet. According to this version, Métaille passed himself off as an able theatrical decorator, and during his first stay in Paris, Watteau worked under his direction for the theater. However, Metaille had no success and after a few months was forced to return home. It is known only that soon after his arrival in Paris, Watteau, having no money to support himself, was hired in a painting studio on the Pont Notre Dame, whose owner organized the mass production of cheap copies of paintings in the "commonplace taste" for wholesale buyers. Watteau repeatedly mechanically copied the same popular paintings (such as Gerard Dawe's "Old Woman Reading"), and gave all his free time to drawing from life, which attested to his exceptional diligence.

Around 1704 Watteau found his first patrons in Pierre Mariette (1630-1716) and his son Jean, engravers and collectors who owned a large firm that sold engravings and paintings. At the Mariettes, Watteau had the opportunity to become acquainted with engravings by Rembrandt, drawings by Titian, and prints by Rubens, and for the first time he was immersed in an atmosphere of genuine professionalism. Through the Mariettes, Watteau became a pupil of the painter Claude Gilleau, a master of theatrical scenery and creator of small paintings depicting scenes of Italian comedy. The few years of apprenticeship with Gilleau played an important role in the formation of Watteau. It was here that he came face to face with the themes that would later become one of the foundations of his work, and he was given the opportunity to see theatrical life from within. It is possible that studying at Gillot did not have a decisive influence on the pictorial formation of Watteau, but it significantly enriched the artistic taste of the recent provincial and led him to an awareness of his own individuality. According to another friend and biographer of the artist, Edm-François Jersen, "From this master, Watteau developed only a taste for the grotesque and the comic, as well as a taste for contemporary subjects to which he later devoted himself. And yet it must be admitted that with Gillot, Watteau finally understood himself and that since then the signs of the talent that was to be developed have become more evident.

From the period of Gillot's apprenticeship, only a few paintings by Watteau have survived, in which the features of his future style are still hard to discern: Harlequin, Emperor of the Moon (presumably painted from an unpreserved drawing by Gillot) and Satire on Doctors (once associated with Moliere's play Monsieur de Pursoniak), which are in the Nantes Museum of Fine Arts and the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts in Moscow, respectively.

In 1707 or 1708 Watteau, whose vulnerable and unruly character began to show early on, left Gillot and became an apprentice and assistant to the famous painter-decorator Claude Audran (1658-1734), curator of the Luxembourg Palace art collection. By this time, Watteau's talent and rare diligence had so perfected his drawing and painting that Audran, according to Jersen, who appreciated "the lightness and nimbleness of the young painter's brush, created better conditions for him, in accordance with the profit he was making from his work. And although Watteau did not go through the academic school - he did not paint marbles and plasters, did not study ancient decorative compositions - he assimilated the principles of the intricately refined ornamentation of his new teacher and composed scenes for mural paintings under his guidance.

"It was with Audran that Watteau first encountered the notion, which later served him well, of style, a consistent system of representation, where every detail, despite its apparent diversity, is imbued with a single plastic intonation, where the slightest deviation from the general melody of lines and volumes turns out to be false and causes the disintegration of the composition... In the ornaments and fantastic patterns, in all these shells, leaves, garlands, flowers Watteau comprehended not only the wisdom of balance, stylistic unity and harmony, not only learned their business, but, moreover, most likely unconsciously, absorbed the "aesthetic melodies", the plastic fashion of the time ... ".

Watteau took part in the execution of Odrand's decorative commissions and in so doing was able to study the artistic collections of the Luxembourg Palace without any restrictions. At the time the palace was only used as a repository of paintings, trellises, furniture and other treasures not considered worthy of Versailles, and became for Watteau virtually a museum. At its center was Rubens' famous cycle of 24 monumental canvases, The Life of Maria de Medici. Among the paintings in the collection, Watteau also encountered Poussin's mythological landscapes, and on leaving the palace he found himself in the almost always deserted landscape of the park, which began with ornate clipped bushes, alleys and pools and passed into a neglected, dense grove. The views of the Luxembourg Park could not fail to serve as visual material for Watteau's later painting.

In the summer of 1709 Watteau entered a competition at the Royal Academy of Arts for the Prix de Rome. To be considered for the Prix de Rome it was necessary to submit a recommendation from a member of the Academy and a sketch on a given biblical or mythological subject. The academics selected the sketches they deemed worthy and assigned applicants a variation on the theme of the declared plot. Who was Watteau's patron is unknown; neither his sketch nor his final painting has survived. What is known is that Watteau, along with four other contestants, was to depict the return of David after his victory over Goliath. On August 31 the result was announced, according to which the first prize and the right to an extended trip to Rome, Watteau has not received, his picture was second place. Shocked by his defeat, the 24-year-old Watteau left Odrand for his homeland of Valenciennes, leaving Paris.

Finding Style. 1710-1715

The time of Watteau's departure from Paris is related to the artist's first drawings and paintings from a small series devoted to war scenes. This series, like the vast majority of Watteau's works, has no authorial dates and is defined by experts in the period 1710-1715. From the notes of Jersen it is known that the first of his battle scenes "marching troops" Watteau wrote not to order and decided to sell it, not to go to Valenciennes empty-handed. Unexpectedly for the artist, the painting on military themes, not only successfully implemented, but followed by an order for the next, which Watteau wrote on his arrival in Valenciennes (Bivouac. 1710. Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts). These and subsequent paintings of the series does not have a single through-phrase, "it is different variations of the same theme, united, perhaps, only the absence of proper military plot - no one shoots, not running into an attack and waving swords. In Valenciennes, he meets Antoine de Larocque (1672-1744), a squadron officer of the Royal Horse Gendarmerie, who was treated after a serious wound. De Laroque, a man of letters and later editor of the Mercure de France magazine for many years, soon became one of the artist's close friends. It is most likely that Antoine Watteau's continuation of the military series was due not only to its success with buyers, but also to a period of close communication with de Larocque.

Here, too, he meets the local forty-year-old sculptor Antoine-Joseph Pater (1670-1747), for whom the 25-year-old Watteau was already a Parisian celebrity and whom Pater asks to be the patron for his 15-year-old son Jean-Baptiste, an aspiring painter. After staying in Valenciennes for less than a year, Watteau returns to Paris with his pupil, where he accepts an invitation from the commissioner of his war paintings, the art dealer Pierre Sirois (1665-1726), to settle with him and work for him. Watteau's works have already attracted the attention of art lovers. He works a lot, and since the early 1710′s his fame is growing steadily, although the artist himself is usually filled with dissatisfaction with everything that comes out of his brush. At the same time he develops a serious illness, tuberculosis.

From the early 1710s Watteau's work begins to be firmly rooted in themes related to the life of the theater and actors. His interest in theatrical imagery - which may have arisen in his early years in Valenciennes and developed during his apprenticeship with Gillot - was one of the most striking features of his new style. But in Watteau's works there are no real theatrical scenes, no concrete settings (as in the paintings of his mentor Gillot). He invents his own situations, his own mise-en-scenes, replacing the scenery with conventional landscape backgrounds.

"The theater appealed to Watteau as an artistic embodiment of life, as an expression of human passions, purified from the randomness of everyday life, illuminated by the lights of the ramp, colored by vivid costumes. Fair theater, with its origins in the Commedia dell'arte, did not know stage closure, the gap between spectacle and life. Actors exchanged replicas with their partners and came out into the audience. And this reinforced Watteau's intrinsic sense of life as a game and characters as masks. Yes, indeed, theater is a second life and life is a kind of stage. And there and there - the acting, the game, the deception, feigned love, feigned sadness and merriment.

In the house of Cyrus, Watteau meets his son-in-law, Edm-François Gersen (1694-1750), an art dealer who soon becomes a close friend of the artist. Through the mediation of Cyrois, Watteau acquired a patron and philanthropist in the person of the richest banker and owner of one of the largest collections of paintings, Pierre Crozier. In 1714, having accepted Crozze's offer to settle in his newly built Parisian mansion, Watteau was given the opportunity to view the masterpieces in his famous collection and, according to Jersen, "avidly pounced on them and knew no other joys than to consider and even copy drawings by the great masters without end.

In Crozier's house, Watteau lived next door to the art academician Charles de Lafosse, whom the banker also patronized and with whom the young artist was on good terms. In 1712 Watteau attempted to enter the Royal Academy of Arts and, according to Jersen, Lafosse encouraged him to be accepted as an "enrolled" artist. On seeing Watteau's work presented to the academy, Lafosse said to the modest young man, "My friend, you are not aware of your talent and underestimate your strength; believe me, you are superior to us in your skill; we believe that you can become a decoration of our Academy; apply and we will admit you into our midst.

The pinnacle of creativity. 1716-1721

Instead of the two years required to create a painting for entry into the Academy, Watteau took five years. Watteau had a not insignificant advantage: the academics did not give him a specific subject (which was the usual rule for applicants), but left the choice up to the artist. This testified to Watteau's high reputation, but it prevented him from presenting anything he wanted as a compulsory painting. During these five years he requested several postponements and was repeatedly summoned to the Academy "to give reasons for the delay.

By 1717, when the obligatory work Pilgrimage to Kieferu Island was finally completed, Antoine Watteau's paintings, commonly known to his contemporaries as "gallant scenes," were so widely successful that it made it possible for Academy members to not consider the artist's obligatory work in the obligatory system of classical genres. An exception was made for Watteau: his painting was given the special status of "gallant feast," thus the Academy specifically acknowledged the artist's services. An entry in the minutes of the meeting of the Royal Academy of Arts on August 28, 1717, read: "Pier Antoine Watteau, painter, originally from Valenciennes, enrolled July 30, 1712, sent a picture that he was asked to perform for his admission to the Academy. It depicts...". It was originally written, "a pilgrimage to the island of Kiefera"; then the scribe crossed out these words and wrote in their place, "a gallant feast." Watteau was elected a full member of the Academy. At the ceremony, in addition to the first royal painter Antoine Quapelle and other famous artists (including Watteau's mentor Claude Gillot), the uncrowned ruler of France, the regent of the minor Louis XV, "His Royal Highness the Monsignor Duke of Orleans," was present.

At the age of thirty-three, Watteau becomes the most popular painter in Paris. The patronage and lucrative commissions with which Crozá supplied Watteau, and the banker's enthusiastic comments on his painting talents all contribute to the beginning of the artist's European fame. Crozá writes to the then famous portraitist Rosalba Carriera in Venice: "Among our painters, I know no one but Monsieur Watteau, who would be able to create a work worthy of being presented to you...". In Crozier's house he receives additional material for his art: in addition to the famous Parisian balls and festivities that nourished Watteau's painting with vivid impressions, weekly meetings of connoisseurs, artists and collectors were held here, immersing him in an atmosphere of refined scholarship.

However, the artist's independent character did not allow him to remain for long in such obliging, albeit luxurious, circumstances. In 1718 Watteau left the hospitable home of his patron, who nevertheless did not lose interest in his art. Probably one of the last works he painted in the large studio at his disposal in Crozá's mansion was the famous Gilles, a large-figure painting that now adorns Watteau's Louvre hall.

"In the history of art, 'Gilles' has virtually no analogy.

Watteau's health was deteriorating. At the end of 1719 he went to England (at the invitation of his admirer and imitator Philippe Mercier) in the hope to cope with tuberculosis with the help of the famous London doctor Richard Mead and took with him several paintings. One of them, The Caprice, was bought in London and later ended up in the Walpole family collection, and Dr. Meade got The Italian Actors. In England Watteau's paintings were a great success, but the treatment did not produce noticeable results; the London climate only exacerbated his grave condition.

Returning to Paris in the summer of 1720 quite ill, he lodged with his friend Gersen, who had recently bought the prestigious antique shop The Grand Monarch on the Pont Notre Dame, and unexpectedly offered to paint a hanging for his new establishment:

"...Watteau came to me and asked if I would agree to let him stay at my place and let him, as he put it, 'stretch his arms' and paint a sign so that I could hang it over the entrance of the shop. I was reluctant to accept, preferring to keep him busy with something more substantial, but noticing that he would enjoy the work, I agreed. Everybody knows how well he succeeded in it; everything was done from life, the poses were so truthful and relaxed, the composition so natural; the groups were so well placed that they attracted the eyes of all passers-by, and even the most experienced painters came several times to admire the sign. It was painted in a week, and even then the artist worked only in the mornings; his frail health, or should I say weakness, prevented him from working longer. It is the only work that somewhat flattered his ego, he frankly admitted to me".

Watteau painted the hanging on two separate and then framed canvases. Significantly larger in size than his other works, Gersen's Shop Sign differs from them also in that its action is transferred from the landscape to the interior. However, the viewer is given the opportunity to see this interior directly from the street, "through the wall. The painting depicts a spacious shop, transformed at the artist's will into an open stage overlooking the Parisian sidewalk. The walls of the antique shop are covered in paintings; in the foreground, on the left, the servants place in a drawer a portrait of the "great monarch leaving the scene" - the recently deceased Louis XIV. In the upper corner hangs a portrait of his father-in-law, King Philip IV of Spain; on the right, connoisseurs scrutinize a picture in an oval frame, perhaps the work of Watteau himself; landscapes and still-lifes are interspersed with mythological scenes (Venus and Mars, Satyr and Nymph, The Drunken Silen) and the Holy Family.

The main peculiarity of this work lies in its exceptional programmatic character. As Louis Aragon and much later Alexander Yakimovich believed, Watteau presented the history of painting as he knew it under the guise of a signboard; at the same time, it is a picture of the creative evolution of the painter himself, which became his artistic testament. Serge Daniel draws a parallel between the significance of Gersen's Shop Sign for Rococo art and the significance of Velázquez's Menin for the preceding century.

At the beginning of 1721, Watteau was still on his feet: the artist Rosalba Carriera, who had recently moved to Paris at the invitation of Pierre Crozá, noted in her diary that on February 9 she had "a return visit" from Watteau. Apparently, she also painted a pastel portrait of Antoine Watteau, which was commissioned by Crozze. In the spring, Watteau became worse. He left Gersen's house, but soon asked for help again - he was having trouble breathing in Paris. As reported by Gersen and the Comte de Quelius, who was in friendship with Watteau, the canon of the church of Saint-Germain-l'Auxeroy abbot Pierre-Maurice Aranger asked the manager of small royal entertainments Philippe Le Fevrier provide an empty house on the edge of Nozhan-sur-Marne, where nothing reminded of the stuffiness and bustle of the capital. The house adjoined a garden that descended to the Marne itself - with bosques, dense trees, a garden reminiscent of the backgrounds of Watteau's paintings. He invited his former pupil Jean-Baptiste Pater to join him and invited him to work in his presence. Pater would later say that all the best things he learned in life he owed to these few precious lessons, which lasted about a month. This was the last temporary improvement: Watteau died on July 18, 1721, at the age of 36.

"Watteau was of medium height, of weak constitution; he had a restless, changeable temper, a firm will; in his mind he was a freethinker, but he led a sensible life; He was impatient, shy, cold and awkward in treatment, with strangers behaved modestly and reservedly, was a good, but difficult friend, misanthrope, even a picky and bitter critic, was constantly unhappy with himself and others, and not easily forgave people their weakness. He spoke little but well; he loved to read, it was the only amusement he allowed himself at his leisure; not having received a good education, he was not bad at judging literature... of course his constant zeal for work, his poor health and the cruel suffering with which his life was full, spoiled his character and contributed to develop those defects which were felt in him when he was still in society."

"He was almost always thoughtful ... hard work put the mark of a certain melancholy on him. His manner was cold and tied up, which sometimes embarrassed his friends and sometimes himself; his only faults were his indifference and his love of change.

"By nature he was acerbic and yet shy - nature does not usually combine these two traits. He was intelligent and, though uneducated, possessed a taste and even a refinement that allowed him to judge music and everything for which reason was needed. The best recreation for him was reading. He knew how to benefit from what he read, but although he was keenly discerning and excellent at showing the amusing human traits of those who annoyed him and hindered his work, he was still, I repeat, weak-kneed and easy to fool... Watteau enjoyed such a loud fame that his only enemy was himself, as well as a spirit of inconstancy with which he could never control... I, however, have always been struck by the unfortunate inconstancy of the man so gifted ... I felt sorry for him all the more because his mind was perfectly aware of everything, but the softness of his nature always took over - in short, his delicacy is constantly increasing and led him to an absolute collapse of strength, which threatened him with great trouble.

Almost all researchers note the significant influence of Rubens's painting on the formation of Watteau's artistic style. For all the differences in the artistic temperament, subject matter and scope of activity of these two masters, they are united by an exceptionally well-developed sense of color. The influence of Rubens on Watteau's "gallant festivities" is quite significant and primarily manifests itself in the painterly approach, which was characterized by V. N. Lazarev, describing Rubens's sketches: "The painter has enough two or three barely visible touches of the brush to the surface of the primed canvas to bring from oblivion the desired form. His brushwork is so faithful, so light, so airy, and when needed, so weighty and energetic, that one wonders about this amazing skill, marking one of the highest points in the development of "peinture pure". However, having been imbued with Rubens's painting, Watteau retained the full individuality of his gift, combining the sensuality of the Flemish school with the refined distance of contemplation that was characteristic of the French artistic tradition.

"...Where in Rubens we find a vital power, a frank lust of the flesh, an entanglement of bodies, a passion as such... - Watteau generally prefers to maintain a certain distance, a silence, "eyes and signs talking". Even in his small canvases Rubens tends towards monumentality; gripped by a whirling rhythm, all forms seem to be involved in the movement of cosmic elements. On the contrary, Watteau, who loved the small format, and such relatively large things as "Pilgrimage to the Island of Kiefer" or "Sign of Jersen," retain a chamber character. Sensing subtly the beauty of curvilinear outlines, Watteau never seeks to bend the form like a tightly stretched bow, as Rubens does; Watteau's favorite line is the smooth elongated S-shape, which can serve as the dominant line of the composition as a whole and determine the graceful plasticity of individual figures. The energy of Rubensian coloring can be compared to a powerful and well-orchestrated speaker, accustomed to communicate with the audience at a distance. Watteau, for all the richness of the palette, tends to soften color contrasts, which contributes to the finely developed texture. If the fused strokes of Rubens flowing solid stream, the Watteau they seemed to flow; often he acts as a skilled weaver, and the pictorial surface resembles a tapestry.

An outstanding colorist, Watteau was a tireless draughtsman and developed his own particular graphic style. As a rule, he used sanguine and combined it with lead or Italian pencil (black chalk), which allowed him to achieve pictorial effects in drawing (sanguine gives a warm tone, and pencil - cold) and especially reverent texture in combinations of fine silhouette line and emphasized relief raschette. Watteau made many preparatory studies and sketches for paintings, often drawing the same character from different angles. His collection of drawings shows that as an extremely observant artist, he sought out the various shades of content in full-scale form, and in the endless variations of poses, movements and gestures, he raised his technique to a virtuoso level. At the same time, it is precisely Watteau's preparatory drawings that make it possible to understand how every gesture, head turn, and fold of the clothing of the characters in his paintings became the fruit of an analytical search for the most expressive composition.

Antoine Watteau lived a short life - his full creative period covers only 10-12 years. Watteau's "posthumous fate" was fickle. The artist died at the zenith of fame, and soon after his death Jean de Julien published his drawings and then engravings of the master's famous paintings - this work was attended by young François Boucher, in whose art a decade later the Rococo style would reach its climax. Chardin was the continuator of Watteau's coloristic tradition, while Fragonard gave the genre of gallant scenes a new face, "not as rich in shades of feeling as Watteau's, but more fluid." A second version of the Pilgrimage to Kieferu Island, the Gersen shop sign and a number of other paintings by Watteau were acquired for the art collection of King Frederick the Great of Prussia, a great admirer of his art. From the end of the 18th century, however-the era of the French Revolution and the works of David and Ingres-the fame of Watteau began to wane and by the mid-19th century had become the subject of interest among a narrow circle of museum workers. The leading thinkers of the French Enlightenment saw in Watteau's painting ties to the old order, and both the genre of "gallant scenes" and the refined colorism of Watteau's chamber paintings proved alien to the art of the Empire and academism.

Interest in Watteau's works awakened again in the second third of the nineteenth century, but first not among artists, but among French poets: Gautier's poem "Watteau" (from The Comedy of Death, 1838), Baudelaire's "Trip to Cypher" (from Flowers of Evil, 1857) and Verlaine's collection Gallant Festivals (1869) are dedicated to Watteau's images. In an article entitled "The Philosophy of Watteau," later included in the first volume of Art of the Eighteenth Century, the Goncourt brothers wrote of the artist: "Watteau is the great poet of the eighteenth century. The masterpieces of dream and poetry created by his mind are filled to the brim with an extraordinary elegance of life... Watteau, it is as if he is reviving beauty. However, it is not the beauty of antiquity, which lies in the perfection of the marble Galatea or the material embodiment of seductive Venus, and not the medieval charm of austerity and hardness. In Watteau's paintings, beauty is beauty: it is that which envelops a woman in a cloud of attraction, her charm, the very essence of physical beauty. It is something subtle that seems to be the smile of features, the soul of forms, the spiritual face of matter."

The representatives of Impressionism - the painters Manet and Renoir, the sculptor Rodin and the composer Debussy, who created the piano piece Island of Joy (1903-1904) based on the Pilgrimage to Kieferu Island, highly appreciated Watteau's art. Antoine Watteau is commemorated by monuments in Paris and Valenciennes.

"In the neat square of today's Valenciennes, it is almost always deserted, one can gaze long and quietly at the monument to Watteau. All around is a quiet provincial square, crowded with cars; light dust lies on their roofs and the same dust on the shoulders and curled curls of the bronze painter. Near the town there are coal mines, a hazy haze hangs permanently in the Valencian sky, and the wind brings not the breath of the sea as before, but the bitter smell of the mines. It's been a long time since the famous lacework for which his hometown was famous in Watteau's time is woven here. And almost all of its houses have been rebuilt. But that's not what prevents you from meeting Watteau.

A close friend of Watteau was an art lover, collector and engraver Jean de Julien. From 1717 to 1735, he acquired about forty paintings (in time only eight remained), including two paintings by Watteau: "Disarmed Love" and "Metseten", he also managed to collect about 450 drawings by Watteau. For the sake of preserving and popularizing the work of his friend, Jean de Julien decided to translate his works into prints. In 1722, he gathered thirty-six artists-engravers for this purpose, including his relative and friend the Comte de Quelus, as well as Jean-Baptiste de Montiullet, Benoit Audran, Charles-Nicolas Cochet the Elder, François Boucher, who was only nineteen at the time, Nicolas Henri Tardieu, Charles Van Loo, Pierre Avelin, Nicolas de Larmessen, Benoit Lepis and others.

In 1728 Jean de Julien published two volumes of Figures des différents caractères de paysages et d'études d'après nature par Antoine Watteau, tirés des plus beaux cabinets de Paris, totaling 351 engravings. In the preface to the edition he placed "A brief biography of Watteau" (Abrégé de la vie de Watteau). Then, in 1736, another album of engravings of paintings and drawings by the late Antoine Watteau (271 engravings) was published. Thus was born the famous collection, later named after its creator: Recueil Jullienne. The full title is "L'Oeuvre D'Antoine Watteau Pientre du Roy en son Academie Roïale de Peinture et Sculpture Gravé d'après ses Tableaux & Desseins originaux...par les Soins de M. de Jullienne". These and other engravings related to Watteau's work are preserved in the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris.

The image of Jean de Julien is known from an engraving created by Nicolas Henri Tardieu in 1731, named after the poetic caption: "Sitting by your side...". Julien is depicted playing the cello in the park, and Watteau is standing beside him with a palette and brushes in his hands. On an easel is an unfinished painting, with sheet music below (the pictorial original did not survive). The engraving was included in Julien's Compendium.

Julien's biography of Watteau was the first account of the artist's life and work. The engravings of Julien's Compendium acquired an important historiographical significance, since many of Watteau's works were later lost, while others remained unsigned and undated. It was Jean de Julien who acquired Watteau's "artistic bequest," a painting of Gersen's Shop, from his cousin Claude Gluck, Ensign Gersen, painted in late 1720, for the Gersen picture store. Later, in 1744, Julien sold the painting to the agent of Frederick II of Prussia, Count Rothenburg. It is now kept in the Charlottenburg Palace in Berlin.

In 2007, the film "The Mystery of Antoine Watteau" with the famous actress Sylvie Testu in the title role was filmed in France.


  1. Antoine Watteau
  2. Ватто, Антуан
  3. Каталог-резоне, вошедший в монографию Элен Адемар и Рене Юига (1950), признаёт подлинными работами Ватто 217 полотен; основная часть каталога-резоне Этторе Камесаски[pt] (1968) насчитывает 215 работ. Каталог-резоне из четырёхтомного сборника под редакцией Жана Ферре[fr] признаёт подлинными только 39 полотен; каталог-резоне Марианны Ролан-Мишель (1980) насчитывает 250 подлинных работ[3][4]:58. Каталог-резоне рисунков Ватто (1957–1958), составленный Карлом Паркером[en] и Жаком Матеем, насчитывает 961 подлинную работу; новый каталог-резоне (1996), составленный Пьером Розенбергом и Луи-Антуаном Пратом, считает подлинными 671 лист[5]:749[6]. Подробнее см.: Список картин Антуана Ватто, список рисунков Антуана Ватто.
  4. Фамилия Ватто восходит к слову gâteau (дословно «пирог»), возможно отсылавшему к роду занятий предков будущего живописца[8][9]. Во французском языке обычно распространено произношение со звонким губно-зубным спирантом ([v]) — Ватто[10], тогда как в Эно встречается вариант со звонким лабиовелярным аппроксимантом ([w]), засвидетельствованный М. Ю. Германом[11] — Уатто[12]. При жизни Ватто и долгое время после его смерти не было устоявшейся записи его фамилии: встречаются варианты Wateau, Watau, Vuateau, Vateau и Vatteau[13].
  5. Dans sa région d'origine, le nom Watteau est prononcé avec un [w] (Jacques Pohl, « Quelques caractéristiques de la phonologie du français parlé en Belgique », Langue française, 1983, 60, p. 30-41. ; Jacques Cellard, Éric Vial, Trésors des noms de famille, des noms de villes et de villages, 2017, partie « Les noms germaniques »). D'autres sources privilégient la prononciation avec un [v] (Jean-Marie Pierret, Phonétique historique du français et notions de phonétique générale, 1994, p. 107 ; André Goosse, Maurice Grevisse, Le Bon usage, 2016, §49).
  6. Hélène Adhémar, René Huyghe, L'Univers de Watteau, P. Tisné, 1950, p. 63-64
  7. ^ The surname Watteau is presumed to originate from the word gâteau (transl. cake), possibly alluding to the trade carried on by the painter's distant ancestors;[5][6] according to Mollett 1883, p. 11, "In the old Walloon language the W is substituted for G, and the very name 'Wallon' is derived from 'Gallus.' 'Watteau' stands for 'Gateau,' as 'William' does for 'Guillaume,' &c." In French, the surname is usually pronounced with the voiced labiodental fricative [v],[7] though in Hainaut, the pronunciation with the voiced labio-velar approximant [w] is present.[8]Various spelling of the surname notably include Wateau, Watau, Vuateau, Vateau, and Vatteau.[9]
  8. ^ a b c d „Antoine Watteau”, Gemeinsame Normdatei, accesat în 16 octombrie 2015
  9. ^ List of scholars at the Academy of France in Rome[*][[List of scholars at the Academy of France in Rome (Prize winners - Academy of France (Rome))|​]], p. 22  Verificați valoarea |titlelink= (ajutor)
  10. ^ „Antoine Watteau”, Gemeinsame Normdatei, accesat în 11 decembrie 2014
  11. ^ a b  Lipsește sau este vid: |title= (ajutor)

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