He is elevated on center stage in what appears to be a garden and he faces the viewer with a downcast expression as his white satin costume dominates, its ballooning midsection lit up. He seems almost like a two-dimensional cut-out figure. Other stock characters surround him but Pierrot remains separate as if he has stepped out of their scene.
The negative space in the upper left further emphasizes Pierrot's isolation. As Jonathan Jones wrote, "Watteau makes the fiction of the picture manifest," as the character, "in his discomfort and alienation, rebels not only against his stock character role in the comedy, but his role in this painting.
His stepping out of the play is also a stepping out of the fiction painted by Watteau. As Jones wrote, "representation of theatrical, socially marginal worlds, following Watteau, is central to French modern art, from the impressionists' cafe singers to Toulouse-Lautrec's dancers and prostitutes and Picasso's Harlequins. I'm Everyman. What I'm doing is theatre, and only theatre. What you see on stage isn't sinister.
It's pure clown. I'm using myself as a canvas and trying to paint the truth of our time. Their asymmetrical placement creates movement as three gondolas extend upward in the center and draw the viewer's eye into the distance, further emphasized by the perspective of the buildings on the right and the church on the left.
The subtle use of local colors give the piece a golden feel and a sense of the idyllic life of the times, which was informed by the Venetian school's love of Arcadian landscapes that heavily informed the Rococo aesthetic. Canaletto was a pioneer in painting from nature and conveying the atmospheric effects of a particular moment, which has led some scholars to see his work as anticipating Impressionism.
As Jonathan Jones wrote, "the delicate feel for light playing on architecture The British art dealer Owen Swiny encouraged him to paint small, even postcard-sized, topographical views to sell to tourists, and the banker and art collector, Joseph Smith, became a noted patron, selling a large number of his works to King George III.
In Canaletto moved to London where he painted scenes of London, such as his Westminster Bridge Ever since his work has retained its popularity and influence: it was featured in the David Bickerstaff film Canaletto and the Art of Venice , and this painting was used in the video game Merchant Prince II An older boy, leaning forward, blows through a reed, expanding a luminous soap bubble.
A younger child in shadow, wearing a cap with a plume, peers over the ledge, his gaze also focused on the shimmering bubble. Acclaimed British art historian, Sir Michael Levey, said "Watteau created, unwittingly, the concept of the individualist artist loyal to himself, and himself alone.
The judges of the Academy judging his reception piece were shocked by what they saw - Watteau's chromatic theatrical universe. They felt he truly was in a category of his own. Jean-Antoine Watteau is attributed to extending the bounds of 18th century French-born artistic period Rococo, beyond architecture, furniture and sculpture and into painting.
He developed a unique style and revolutionized the art world through his individuality. This was seen not only in the themes of his work very theatrically influenced but also in his style ornate, airy.
He then repeats this pose from a slightly different angle. Finally, he depicts her seated, slightly in the background, holding a musical score and looking off to her right, as if distracted or expectant.
The model is dressed throughout in a jacket with rolled tails and a fluted ruff, and each pose suggests that she is listening to music rather than playing an instrument, or singing. Watteau was a prolific and gifted draughtsman, perhaps the greatest of his generation, and some of his friends claimed that he actually preferred drawing to painting.
He filled albums and sketchbooks with landscapes, copies after old masters, and above all, life studies like the present drawing, where he would circle his models and study their pose from various angles.
While two of these studies reappear in paintings, Watteau rarely made drawings specifically as studies for paintings. And though he is reputed to have made anywhere between two and four thousand drawings, slightly fewer than seven hundred now survive. Watteau worked primarily in red chalk, or aux trois crayons, a technique employing red, black and white chalks to often stunning chromatic effect. Unusually, in this drawing, he favoured black chalk, with only touches of red.
More interesting still is his use of graphite, which adds a satiny sheen to the girl's costume. Graphite appears in French drawings by , but its origins are obscure so Watteau's use of it here does not indicate a date, per se.
Moreover, since he neither signed nor dated his drawings, and often reused them, one cannot date a study based solely on its reappearance in a specific painting. However, curator Margaret Morgan Grasselli suggested a date of , based on technical similarities, and an evident resemblance between this model and the woman who posed for one of the studies of the second version of his master work Pilgrimage to the Island of Cythera The figures are paired off in couples that alternately flirt, entreat, engage, and conjoin in a quest for the ideal love that presumably awaits them at their destination.
The figures run across the composition from right to left becoming more distant, and less individualized as they progress. Accompanying them are half-draped oarsmen and a swarm of putti that twirl above, signalling joy and anticipation. Watteau painted the picture in lemony, Venetian tones that offset the opalescent blues of the vast sky and contrast with passages of vermilion in the costumes.
Watteau's quick, delicate impasto brushwork, overlaid with many layers of thin, varicolored glazes creates a hazy, dreamlike atmosphere that, along with the low horizon line and the swell of landscape in the foreground, marks his setting as a utopia: both an ideal place and a place that can never be. Imagining a fictional version of Watteau in his essay A Prince of Court Painters , Walter Pater described Watteau as "a seeker after something in the world that is there in no satisfying measure, or not at all.
However, he did not complete the picture for another five years because at the time he was working on a large number of private commissions for Pierre Crozat and others.
A year or two later, Watteau painted a second version of the same subject at the request of his friend Jean de Jullienne, which is now in the collection of the Charlottenberg Palace in Berlin.
Following the Revolution, the increased taste for moralising classicism effectively cancelled out the Rococo and with it any popular appreciation of Watteau's work. Watteau's paintings celebrate the journey between men and women and the desire to embark upon it.
Like the repetition with which Watteau executed these studies of courtship, the faces of his figures all look very much the same. All appear smooth-powdered; personalized traits are rare. The painter is concerned not with individuals but with a collective fantasy of the lightness of love, and the lightness, too, of being.
The same can be said of Marivaux, Watteau's literary counterpart. Both, painter and writer, consciously distanced themselves from the high tragedies of the Louis XIV era, in which the only type of love considered worthy of artistic treatment was the grand passion which led to catastrophe.
Neither Watteau nor Marivaux tackled the serious social or philosophical issues of the day, for which both were taken correspondingly to task. Voltaire, the great thinker of the Enlightenment, said of Marivaux what he might equally have said of Watteau - namely that he had spent his life 'in weighing trifles on scales made of cobwebs'. The criticism, which was meant unkindly, describes the entire culture of the Regence, that brief, happy entr'acte in the history of France.
Education Through Love The Regence was probably no more liberal on matters of physical love, however, than the strict regime of Louis XIV and the bigoted companion of his old age, Madame de Maintenon.
It was simply that under Louis, libertinism was not the court style. The regent, on the other hand, publicly embraced it.
The fact that the finer details of gallantry thereby tended to be skipped over only meant that these were trumpeted all the louder on stage and in art. Gallantry also dictated an important part of women's education.
Girls from the aristocracy and the well-to-do bourgeoisie only learned the bare essentials of writing and arithmetic, but made up for this by honing the agility of their bodies and minds. They knew how to dance, how to play and sing, how to use a fan and how to discuss pictures and books.
It was the ladies who set the gallant tone in the salons and at feasts, but it was also their task to divert any overly instinctual drives displayed by their admirers into more intellectual areas - in other words, to polish the rougher characters.
Watteau makes the success of their efforts patently clear in the bended knees, tender glances and delicate gait of his young men. Watteau was praised not simply for his delicate 18th century colour palette , which anticipates the innovations of the Rococo, and for his rich nuances of body language, which can be studied so clearly in this picture.
He was equally admired by his contemporaries for his representation of Nature. Even his park landscapes testify to the spirit of the Regence: forgotten are the geometrical paths, flower beds and hedges of the Sun King's gardens at Versailles. Watteau's parks are "raw and uncombed", but at the same time embellished with artificial elements, such as statues, grottoes and little temples.
The mossy ground offers a soft cushion; there is neither wind nor rain, and few signs of the seasons. These are salons held within unspoilt, friendly Nature, an ideal setting for escapist feasts.
In the background, double-height glazed doors center the composition and create a slight pause before a second, more complexly arranged group.
In any event, the painting's acclaimed qualities include its rhythmical structure along with its subtle sense of continuity between the groups of figures, the liveliness of its brushwork, and the beautiful colour scheme. While this much-debated question is probably as old as the painting itself, whether we are at Point A or Point B is not important here. External video Antoine Watteau, Pilgrimage to Cythera, , Smarthistory In the ancient world, Cythera , one of the Greek islands, was thought to be the birthplace of Venus, goddess of love. Acclaimed British art historian, Sir Michael Levey, said "Watteau created, unwittingly, the concept of the individualist artist loyal to himself, and himself alone. Interpretation of Other 18th-Century Paintings For more about 18th century Rococo art, see the following resources:.
Below the console, two large birds perch on palmettes. After a period of stagnation, the economy boomed; the new regent brought peace, and the country's wealth was no longer swallowed up by the military. Instead, their performance depended on audience engagement, and the actors allowed the plots to change and evolve based on what appealed to a specific audience. They have lovely passages where we can see the hand of the artist. Like Crozat, Jullienne was a typical representative of the up-and-coming bourgeoisie: the son of a cloth merchant, he made his fortune as a manufacturer of textile dyes. The naturalism of his theatrical figures and their landscaped idylls is due to the fact that he made countless sketches from life at least two of which for the seated girl are in The British Museum.
A statue of Venus stands in the shade of the trees, like a goddess of nature. Charles-Antoine Coypel, the son of its then director, later said: "The charming paintings of this gracious painter would be a bad guide for whoever wished to paint the Acts of the Apostles. I'm Everyman. This style became a significant influence on the development of Rococo painting, although it rapidly fell out of favour during the era of the French Revolution when it was superceded by the new Neoclassical painting. Derivative works[ edit ] In Claude Debussy wrote a piece for solo piano titled " L'Isle Joyeuse ", which may have been inspired by the painting; the colorful and brilliant piano writing depicts the ecstasy of the lovers.
Many art historians have come up with a variety of interpretations of the allegory of the voyage to the island of love. Jullienne was undoubtedly a wealthy man, but he worked hard for his money. Education Through Love The Regence was probably no more liberal on matters of physical love, however, than the strict regime of Louis XIV and the bigoted companion of his old age, Madame de Maintenon.
He's got his quiver on the ground, as though he doesn't really need to do anything here because love is all around him already. He sits at the base of a pillar with a carved head on top possibly "blind" Homer , his right leg extended and braced as he leans downwards to where young woman sits on the grass, dressed in iridescent silks with her hair powdered. Although he was given unusual freedom in choosing a subject for his painting, his failure to submit a work brought several reprimands.
After seeing it in Antwerp, Le Brun wrote, "it delighted and inspired me to such a degree that I made a portrait of myself at Brussels, striving to obtain the same effects. While his mature work featured sparkling satins, bosky shadows, and complex tonalities, Watteau's decorative designs focused on line, rhythm, balance and correspondence of motifs, all of which he painted here in muted gold, pink, cornflower blue, and sage green. The fact that the finer details of gallantry thereby tended to be skipped over only meant that these were trumpeted all the louder on stage and in art.
Other stock characters surround him but Pierrot remains separate as if he has stepped out of their scene. A year or two later, Watteau painted a second version of the same subject at the request of his friend Jean de Jullienne, which is now in the collection of the Charlottenberg Palace in Berlin. In any event, the painting's acclaimed qualities include its rhythmical structure along with its subtle sense of continuity between the groups of figures, the liveliness of its brushwork, and the beautiful colour scheme. A nude statue of the goddess rises from a pedestal that is garlanded with flowers on the right, as if presiding over the festivities. It is unlikely that the roofer's son from the provinces would have felt at ease in such company.