A Week of Watteau

Posted by: on Mar 18, 2011 | No Comments

I spent the greater part of this week awaiting my ticket time at the Royal Academy of Art to see the new exhibition of Watteau’s sketches.  Humble chalk never created anything so charming as this massive archive of studies-for-nothing.  Watteau often sketched for its own sake, drawing on various figures and studies when necessary for his paintings, but rarely with that end in mind when he put stick to paper. 

Most notably, Watteau is credited with the creation of the fêtes galantes, a sort of aristo-idyllic scene, in which lords and ladies displayed the excessive emotions of stage characters in a bower or other such pastoral locale.  Less talked about though are his boudoir scenes, many of which he destroyed before his death.  These include women and men in various states of undress, putting on or taking off clothes, in a variety of what I might gingerly call “compromising situations.”

Charming is simply the only word for his work, and if your experience is limited to his paintings I will insist you are missing out.  If will be in London between now and June and haven’t already clicked away from this nonsense to buy your tickets, do so post haste.

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