Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Watteau: The Drawings Review

On the Cover
Detail of cat. 73
Detail of Three Bust-length Studies of Women (1718-19) 
Seated Male Figure Holding a Staff.
Red chalk on cream paper.

Semi-nude Man, Seen in Three-quarter View and Turned to the Left, Lifting a Glass.
Red black and white chalks on beige paper.

Seated Young Woman Holding a Basket in Her Left Hand.
Red, black and white chalks on beige paper.
Detail of Head of a Boy and Two Half-length Studies of a Flute-player.
Red, black and white chalks on buff-coloured paper.

Jean-Antoine Watteau (1684-1721) was one of France's greatest draftsmen. He had the ability to capture a natural gesture and used a light, subtle line. He was very adept with the trios crayons technique which uses red, black and white chalks to portray the value ranges. He has always been considered a better draftsmen than a painter (a belief he, himself, shared).

Watteau The Drawings was published by The Royal Academy of Arts, London in 2011. The book itself is of good quality and the reproductions well done. There is a good selection of subject matter and it will make a good addition to my collection.

On the matter of Watteau, himself, and where he ranks in my personal hierarchy of histories draftsmen? Probably only mid-range in my top 20. He certainly doesn't break into the top 5. Of course, he died at the age of 37 (the same age at which Raphael passed away). It would be very interesting to see how his drawing might have matured if he had only lived longer.

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