Jean-Antoine Watteau, 'Woman Wearing a Mantle over her Head and Shoulders' (detail), c.1718-19. Red and black chalks and graphite on paper, 197 x 179 mm. Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, inv. 1831. Photo © Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts, USA / Michael Agee.
The Royal Academy of Arts presents the first major retrospective exhibition of Jean-Antoine Watteau’s (1684 – 1721) drawings to be held in the UK.
The display contains over 80 works on paper produced by the French artist. The exhibition is organised chronologically and examines the development and mastery of his drawing methods. The drawings selected for the exhibition demonstrate the full range of Watteau’s subject matter; from fêtes galantes, (a genre Watteau invented which depicted social gatherings of elegant people in parkland settings) and theatre pieces to portraits and shop interiors.
Drawing lay at the heart of Watteau’s creative process; he prized his drawings and kept them in bound volumes which enabled him to refer to them when composing his paintings as they were an essential source of inspiration for figure poses. Throughout his career Watteau worked continually in red chalk; early works using this medium on display include The Shipwreck c. 1710 and Interior of a Draper’s Shopc. 1710-11. Although he achieved as broad a range of colour and tone as is possible through this medium, he is best known for his mastery of the trois crayonstechnique, the subtle manipulation and expert balancing of red, black and white. He made very little use of pen and ink and occasionally combined chalk with graphite, and also employed washes.
Watteau: The Drawingshas been organised by the Royal Academy of Arts. The exhibition has been curated by Pierre Rosenberg, Académie Française, Président-Directeur of the Musée du Louvre, Louis-Antoine Prat, Chargé de mission, Département des Arts graphiques, Musée du Louvre and Katia Pisvin, Royal Academy of Arts, London.
12 March—5 June 2011. In the Sackler Wing of Galleries www.royalacademy.org.uk/
Jean-Antoine Watteau, 'Studies of Actors, a Pair of Hands and a Fragment of an Arabesque', c.1711. Red chalk on paper. 168 x 221 mm. Hessisches Landesmuseum, Darmstadt, inv. A.E.2400. Photo © Hessisches Landesmuseum, Darmstadt.
Jean-Antoine Watteau, 'Seated Persian Wearing a Fur Hat', 1715. Red and black chalk on cream paper, frame line drawn in pen and black ink; fully glued to backing. 250 x 212 mm. Teylers Museum, Haarlem, inv. M21a. Photo © Teylers Museum, Haarlem.
Jean-Antoine Watteau, 'Nude Man Kneeling, Holding some Fabrics in his Right Hand', c.1715-16. Red, black and white chalks, wash and graphite on beige paper, frame line drawn in pen and brown ink. 244 x 297 mm. Musée du Louvre, Paris, Département des Arts graphiques, inv.33360. Photo © RMN / Thierry Le Mage.
Jean-Antoine Watteau, 'Three Studies of a Young Girl Wearing a Hat', c.1716. Red and black chalk, graphite on paper. 138 x 246 mm. Collection of Ann and Gordon Getty, San Francisco
Jean-Antoine Watteau, 'Five Studies of a Woman's Head, One Lightly Sketched', c.1716-17. Red, black and white chalks with two tones of red chalk, red wash and highlights using white gouache on cream paper. 329 x 238 mm The Trustees of the British Museum, London, inv. 1895-9-15-941. Photo © The Trustees of the British Museum, London
Jean-Antoine Watteau, 'Two Studies of Women, the One on the Left with Arms Raised; the One on the Right Seated, Pulling up her Stocking', c.1716-17. Red, black and white chalks, black chalk and graphite on cream paper 225 x 205 mm. Nationalmuseum, Stockholm, inv. NM280/1980. Photo © Nationalmuseum, Stockholm / Erik Cornelius
Jean-Antoine Watteau, 'Woman Seen from the Back Seated on the Ground, Leaning Forward', c.1717-18. Red and black chalk, wash and graphite on paper, fully glued to backing 145 x 182 mm. The Trustees of the British Museum, London, inv. 1895-9-15-936. Photo © The Trustees of the British Museum, London.
Jean-Antoine Watteau, 'Three Studies of a Woman Wearing a Feathered Hat', c.1716-17.Red, black and white chalk and stumping on paper. 232 x 310 mm. Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, Lisbon.
Jean-Antoine Watteau, 'Semi-nude Woman, Seated on a Day-bed, Holding her Left Foot in her Hands', c. 1717-18Red, black and white chalks on greyish paper. 339 x 221 mm. The Trustees of the British Museum, London, inv. 1860-6-16-136. Photo © The Trustees of the British Museum, London.