Arabesques (decorations with curves and tendrils inspired by plant forms) were in vogue in 18th-century France. Watteau (1684-1721) produced arabesques for the ornamentation of walls, paneling, furniture, and ceilings. He depicted popular motifs, such as the elegant courtship in an idyllic outdoor setting pictured in The Gallant, shown nearby, or as in Columbine and Harlequin, two characters from productions of the Commedia dell'arte, an Italian comic theater.
Watteau launched a trend for the exotic scenes found on imported Chinese porcelains and lacquer ware about 1707. The parasol in The Gallant, and the Asian face that smiles down from the top of Columbine and Harlequin, are examples of chinoiserie, the playful imitation of Chinese art.
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