Exhibition | Antoine Watteau: The Draughtsman

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by InternRW on August 6, 2016

Opening in October at the Städel Museum:

Antoine Watteau: The Draughtsman / Der Zeichner
Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main, 19 October 2016 — 15 January 2017
Teylers Museum, Haarlem, 2 February — 14 May 2017

Jean Antoine Watteau, Standing Figure (Nicolas Vleughels), ca. 1718–19 (Frankfurt am Main: Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main)

Jean Antoine Watteau, Standing Male Figure (Nicolas Vleughels?), ca. 1718–19 (Frankfurt: Städel Museum)

The French painter Antoine Watteau (1684–1721) is among the great masters of draughtsmanship. His sensitive studies in red, black and white chalk capture female and male models, observations of details and spontaneous ideas, and develop that world of cheerful companies and mutually attentive conviviality that would come to be called fêtes galantes (‘courtship parties’).

In cooperation with the Teylers Museum in Haarlem, the Städel Museum is planning an exhibition of drawings by Antoine Watteau for the autumn of 2016. Both institutions have in their possession substantial holdings of works by the artist, who can be considered one of the most outstanding draughtsmen in the history of French art. His innovative style—characterized by a combination of spontaneity, ease and intimacy on the one hand and observation of the utmost precision on the other—contrasts starkly with the formal tradition of the academically oriented artists of his time. With its psychological sensitivity, the new, virtuoso art reflects the spirit of the dawning Enlightenment.

Watteau is relatively little known in Germany, despite the fact that in the eighteenth century he was one of the Frederick the Great’s favourite artists. The last exhibition to be devoted here to Watteau took place in 1984. Among the works in the Stadel Museum’s painting collection is the earliest version of the Embarkation for Cythera, which—owing in part to the two further versions in the Louvre and Charlottenburg Palace—represents what is presumably the artist’s most famous pictorial invention. Enhanced by a small selection of further paintings, the Städel Museum’s Embarkation for Cythera will form the core of the presentation of approximately fifty choice drawings from the holdings of the participating institutions as well as a number of other prominent German, Dutch, and French collections. Approximately twenty drawings by such artists as François Boucher, Nicolas Lancret, or Jean-Honoré Fragonard will supplement this selection, bearing testimony to Watteau’s impact on later generations of artists.

Martin Sonnabend and Michiel Plomp, Antoine Watteau: Der Zeichner (Munich: Hirmer Verlag, 2016), 260 pages, ISBN: 978-3777426549, 35€.

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Note (added 19 October 2016) — The original posting listed the title of the exhibition as Antoine Watteau: Drawings / Zeichnungen and did not include the exhibition catalogue.


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