*Rococo Revisited
Pilgrimage to Cythera (detail) 
Watteau, Antoine (1684-1721)
Oil on canvas
Charlottenburg Palace, Berlin
Jean-Antoine Watteau (Valenciennes 1684-1721 Nogent-sur-Marne) Two studies of a young children
red, black and white chalk 
Antoine Watteau
(1684 - 1721) 
The Italian Comedians, probably 1720
oil on canvas
Antoine Watteau’s The Italian Comedians presents fifteen figures arranged on stone steps and dressed in costumes typical of the commedia dell’arte theater. The Italian comedians were extremely popular performers whose fame rested on the audience’s recognition of stock characters. Their plays were often greatly exaggerated by pantomime, gesture, and innuendo. Pierrot, dressed in shimmering white satin, stands in the center of the composition. Pierrot was a naive clown whose declarations of love were rejected by Flaminia, the heroine, placed to his left. Other well–known characters are Scaramouche, dressed in yellow and black, whose sweeping arm gesture presents Pierrot to the audience; on the left are Mezzetin, another clown who flirts with Sylvia, the ingénue, and Harlequin, the adventurer, shown with a black face in his red and green diamond–cut costume.
The garland of flowers in the foreground steps suggests the actors are taking a bow after their performance; however the members united here were probably Watteau’s own invention, and connected to a specific play or troupe. This tension between illusion and reality is typical of Watteau and influenced a generation of his followers to explore the relationships between painting and theater.
Watteau, Jean-Antoine (1684 - 1721) (Circle of)
Fête champêtre (Pastoral Gathering) 
circa 1722
oil on canvas
Dulwich Picture Gallery 

Antoine Watteau’s imaginary landscapes often feature people (predominantly courtiers) who have just whispered something to someone else or are about to do so… Figures turning towards or away from one another. They are also often shown from the back. What we, the viewers, see is chiefly the interplay of the figures and their gazes, all of those lines that criss-cross each other across the paintings: one person is looking at another person who is looking out at us, while that person is being looked at by somebody else. These figures are frozen in a pose that has them inclined just a millimetre too far, just a millimetre too close, or too far from the other figure. And what we hear - there are so many musical instruments - is quiet, frozen music.

BOZAR asked Dirk Braeckman to find a way of depicting the artworks that could not be brought to the exhibition. Not because Braeckman is seen to be ‘the photographer of emptiness’, but because he is so adept at depicting ‘emptiness’ (memory, memory loss, absence, desire) in all of his photographs. Braeckman hardly ever shows us what is actually there in a photograph. And all we can do is fill in these photographs with our own desires, our own absences, forever feverishly searching for meaning. It is as if the distance between the figures suddenly becomes solid, becomes material. Each of Braeckman’s photographs allows us to hear and see what is going on among Watteau’s figures as they lean in towards one another. Whispering. Music. The ‘negative space’. The silence. Our unstoppable desire to constantly bridge that distance and fill in the silence. - Peter Verhelst

(via BOZAR EXPO - Dirk Braeckman |In the context of: Watteau’s World )

Jean-Antoine Watteau
"La déclaration attendue" (The anticipated declaration)
18th century
Angers, musée des Beaux-Arts

| Alcôve 6, Le foyer Crozat
La Perspective (View through the Trees in the Park of Pierre Crozat)
Antoine Watteau 
c. 1715
Oil on canvas, 47 x 55 cm
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Watteau developed and made famous a type of painting of the elegant party, called the fête galante, in which ladies and gentlemen converse, flirt, and make music in idyllic outdoor settings. This is his only fête galante with an identifiable setting: in the distance, Watteau shows the Château de Montmorency near Paris, home of his friend and patron, the art collector and financier Pierre Crozat. The artist freely transformed the site, creating a dreamlike fantasy world evocative of the theater with its backdrop of towering trees and graceful groupings of figures in old-fashioned dress.
Jean-Antoine Watteau  (1684 - 1721) 
The Portal of Valenciennes, 1709-1710
(New York, Frick Collection)
The location depicted in this small painting appears to be outside the fortifications of Valenciennes, Watteau’s birthplace in northern France, where he returned for a visit in 1709. Soldiers are portrayed in the foreground, dozing or lounging in the early morning light. Abandoned on the ground beside them are such martial trappings as a drum and gun, guarded by a dog, asleep. A pike propped behind the drum leans against the wall, pointing to the French royal coat of arms. The unspoken creates a sense of mystery and hidden messages in this seemingly undramatic genre subject. Between 1709 and 1714, Watteau painted a series of military scenes, sights that were familiar to him, for his native countryside had long been a battleground. Far from glorifying military life, these works dwell on the peripheral incidents and activities of warfare. The subtle hues and warm light of this quiet picture, as well as the delicate touch of the artist’s brush in rendering the details of figures, costumes, and setting, look forward to the more familiar scenes of theater and romantic dalliance painted later in Watteau’s career. 
The pleasures of summer; engraved by Francois Joullain (1697-1778) - (after) Jean Antoine Watteau.
Le Flûtiste ; Paysage (Ancien titre)

MILLET Jean François II, MILLET Francisque (dit) & WATTEAU Jean Antoine
the unsurpassed master of the trois crayons drawing

Among 18th Century artists, Watteau is the unsurpassed master of the trois crayons drawing. This technique derived from Rubens in the 17th Century but was tranformed by later French artists such as Charles de la Fosse and ultimately reached its zenith with Watteau. In the present sheet, red chalk predominates while black is used in the hair of all three figures, but as accents only on the figures at the right and left. The white chalk is used for all three figure to highlight both their faces and clothing. In his handling of the red chalk alone, the diversity of technique is extraordinary. Short, jagged strokes and softer passages of hatching are combined to evoke the crisp folds of fabric. In contrast, an undulating line around the neck of the seated girl enhanced by a bit of white perfectly suggests the translucency and delicacy of her ruffled collar. It is difficult, and indeed was unimportant to Watteau for the purpose of the drawing, to tell whether the two children at the left are boys or girls. Again, this is typical of Watteau’s approach to these figures where the precise identity or use of them was less important than the pose he was trying to capture at that moment. As one of his 18th Century biographers, the Comte de Caylus noted: ‘The exercise of drawing had infinite charms for him and although sometimes the figure on which he happened to be at work was not a study undertaken with any particular purpose in view, he had the greatest imaginable difficulty in tearing himself away from it…in general he drew without a purpose…It was his habit to do his drawings in a bound book, so that he always had a large number of them that were readily available. He possessed cavalier’s and comedian’s costumes in which he dressed up such persons as he could find, of either sex, who were capable of posing adequately, and whom he drew in such attitudes as nature dictated…When he took his fancy to paint a picture, he resorted to his collection of studies, choosing such figures as suited him for the moment. These he usually grouped so as to accord with a landscape background that he had already conceived or prepared.’ The figures in this drawing appear with some modifications in at least five painted works by Watteau. The central figure with the child in three quarter view was used most frequently, appearing in L’accordée de village, Assemblée galante (fig. 1) and Entretiens amoureux (Recueil Jullienne, D.V. 116; D.V. 139 and D.V. 124). The child at the far left of the sheet appears, very definitely as a girl and wielding a Harlequin’s sword which is only suggested in the drawing, in the painting Heureux âge! âge d’or.. (Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth; Watteau (1684-1721), exhib. cat., Washington, D.C., National Gallery of Art and elsewhere, 1984, pp. 365-67, no. 50). Two of the children appear in a small painting on copper entitled La Déclaration which is being sold in these rooms on 30 January 2013 (lot 37). In this painting, as in the three others, the young child from the center of the drawing stares out at the viewer, her gaze all the more arresting because she is the only figure facing us. Watteau has then taken the seated girl in the right side of the drawing and reversed her pose, including her face which instead of facing three-quarter view towards the viewer, now faces almost in profile towards the amorous couple behind her. Here Watteau’s inventiveness is on full display — having taken two seemingly unconnected figure studies from one drawing — he has reconceived them as a coherent assembly in La Déclaration.

Antoine Watteau (Valenciennes 1684-1721 Nogent-sur-Marne) 
La Déclaration 
inscribed in ink ‘A. Watteau’ (on the reverse of the copper) 
oil on copper