The first time I noticed Jean- Antoine Watteau was while I was going through a book my mother bought me from the Washington DC Hirshhorn museum of Art. The book, “1001 Paintings You Must See Before You Die,” featured Watteau’s most famous work, the Embarkation for Cythera:
In the early 1700s, Watteau worked under Claude Audran III, who was the curator of the Palais du Luxembourg. There, Watteau was exposed to the works of Peter Paul Rubens. Rubens would become one of the major influences for Watteau’s work. Watteau focused on aspects of aristocratic life in his paintings. Surprisingly, Watteau never had aristocratic patrons; he painted for members of the bourgeois such as bankers and dealers. His paintings have almost an ethereal touch, with beautiful colors and lighting.
Watteau is greatly admired for his skill as a draftsman. He rarely draw a complete compositional study drawing; instead, he preferred to draw an exceedingly large number of figure and head drawings. He filled his sketchbook with countless study drawings of figures in different poses and heads at different angles and lighting. His drawings are beautiful because they show movements.
Studies of Comedians:
Five Studies of a Woman's Head, One Lightly Sketched:
Watteau’s earliest drawings used only red chalk, then he added black chalk, and finally, around 1715, he began to use white chalk in his drawings. This technique called “trios crayons” (three chalks) was used by other artists such as Rubens and La Fosse.
trios cryaons: A Man Reclining and a Woman Seated on the Ground