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Artists in 60 Seconds: Jean-Antoine Watteau

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© Christie's Images Limited

Jean-Antoine Watteau (French, 1684-1721). La Surprise, ca. 1718. Oil on panel. 14 1/2 x 11 1/2 in. (36.3 x 28.2 cm).

© Christie's Images Limited

Movement, Style, School or Type of Art:

Rococo

Date and Place of Birth:

(Baptism) October 10, 1684, Valenciennes, France

Life:

Watteau elevated to visual poetry the already lofty art of the Rococo period with his oil scenes of courtly love and elegant society festivities. His work is characterized by having many layers of (mostly transparent) colors in an array of pleasant tones. The happy feel of his paintings made for a poignant contrast to his personal life, which was miserably lonely and punctuated by frequent illness. Watteau's output was terminated by his early death.

Important Works:

  • Gilles and his Family, 1716
  • Embarkation for Cythera, 1717-19
  • Mezzetin, 1717-19
  • L'Enseigne de Gersaint, 1720

Date and Place of Death:

July 18, 1721, Nogent-sur-Marne, France

Sources and Further Reading

  • Borsch-Supan, Helmut. Antoine Watteau 1684-1721
    (Masters of French Art)
    .
    Koln : Konemann, 2001.
    Buy Direct

  • Plax, Julie Anne. Watteau and the Cultural Politics
    of Eighteenth-Century France
    .
    Cambridge : Cambridge University Press, 2000.
    Buy Direct

  • Posner, Donald. Antoine Watteau.
    Ithaca : Cornell University Press, 1984.
    Buy Direct

  • Vidal, Mary. Watteau's Painted Conversations: Art, Literature,
    and Talk in Seventeenth- And Eighteenth-Century France
    .
    New Haven and London : Yale University Press, 1992.
    Buy Direct

  • Zeri, Federico; Dolcetta, Marco. Watteau:
    The Embarkment for Cythera
    .
    Richmond Hill : NDE Publishing, 2000.
    Buy Direct

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