Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Jean-Antoine Watteau and Gersaint's Shop Sign

'Gersaint's Shop Sign' (1720) by Jean-Antoine Watteau; Staatliche Museen, Berlin
I'm not really a big fan of French Rococo painter Jean-Antoine Watteau, born on 10 October 1684. He represents the fête galante style, a French term used for (usually small scale) paintings that show groups of elegantly dressed men and women, depicted in a park or garden setting, most of the time engaged in amorous play. It's not so much the frivolity of these paintings or the subject matter that I don't like, but it has more to do with the ornate Rococo style. Watteau studied with a local painter and after his death, he studied with another painter who specialised in decorating theaters. During his 15-year career, Watteau showed his skill in a variety of genres, subjects and techniques. His best known subjects are drawn from the Italian Commedia dell'arte. The painting I have chosen for today, I do like. I have posted the full painting but if you want to see it more closely in detail, then click here and click again to enlarge it. The painting is his last masterpiece, painted on two canvasses, and is a depiction of an art gallery with clients and shop staff. It was actually painted as a shop sign for the art dealer Edme-François Gersaint but never was used as an external sign. It only spent fifteen days at the shop. For further reading on the painting, click here.

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