The Metropolitan Museum is currently showing the exhibition: Watteau, Music and Theater. The curators explain the time period, the reign of Louis quinze, was a period of "lush artistry," and the works selected show just that and more.
If you are familiar with the museum you will find the show immediately to your right when you enter the European Paintings Galleries. Along blue walls you will find wonderfully entertaining examples of entertainments! Theater characters get dramatic on stages both indoor and outdoor, while crowds look on eagerly - and with satisfaction - while private concerts invite you into 18th century homes.
And that is what I love.
Watteau began his career working with a theater painter, Claude Gillot (1673-1722). Gillot drew many scenes from the Comedie Italian and his La Scène des deux carrosse is in the exhibition. The drama is intense, both in emotion and absurdity. The expressions on the characters' faces, their exaggerated poses, drawn out with hasty lines, give the impression that the drawing could have been done right on the scene (or in the theater).
It is important that we can see the type of work Watteau was surrounded by and taught when he was developing as an artist. You may recognize his images of Pierrot, a sad figure but always elegantly done, and he appears at least three times throughout the exhibition. I found him particularly intersesting in the Foursome - just what are you showing those ladies sir? Other notable characters are Harlequin and Crispin.
Although I was prepared for many Watteau's (and was very satisfied with the result) I found myself particularly pleased with the Lancret's that were on display. His Concert at the Oval Salon of Pierre Crozat is beautiful up close, from the expressions on the faces to the tiles in the floor. The stage is set!
Other notable pieces of his are Crozat's Chateau at Montmorency and Concert in Paris Home of Pierre Crozat both done in 1720. If you could guess, Crozat was very much into art and collecting (not to mention of some fortune.) Crozat's great-niece was Louise-Honorine Crozat, and Watteau actually stayed with the family under his patronage for a bit.
The exhibition has a mix of paintings, prints and even some porcelains. Some popular pieces include Watteau's The Island of Cythera and his Mezzetin. It has everything you might want in an afternoon, masquerades, opera, comedy and private concerts with rosy-cheeked boys.
The show was so well done and I insist you go if you are in the area. It is on view until November 29, but if you can't make it you can purchase the exhibition catalog here and you can view selected works from the show here!
Side Note: I also had fun posting updates on twitter, you can follow me, MarieGossip and MetMuseum. If you have been to the show, or plan to go let me know how you found it! I would love to hear your thoughts!
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