Study for "The Romancer" (Le Conteur)

c. 1716
(French, 1684–1721)
Support: Two sheets (joined) of yellow-beige(2) laid paper laid down on cream(3) wove paper
Sheet: 35 x 27.5 cm (13 3/4 x 10 13/16 in.); Secondary Support: 35.1 x 27.8 cm (13 13/16 x 10 15/16 in.)
Location: not on view
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Did You Know?

Jean Antoine Watteau likely drew this sheet from a combination of life study and imagination, working from a model and adding other elements of his own creation.


This sheet was a preparatory study for the painting The Romancer. An actor in the costume of Mezzetin, a stock character of the commedia dell’arte (a type of satirical theatrical entertainment of Italian origin popular in aristocratic circles in 18th-century France), interrupts a guitarist with a bold sexual advance. Another actor dressed as the French pantomime stock character Pierrot peers lasciviously over the young musician’s shoulder. A more detailed study of Pierrot’s head occupies the upper left corner of the sheet, demonstrating Jean Antoine Watteau’s experimentation with how to most effectively depict a lecherous gaze.
Study for "The Romancer" (Le Conteur)

Study for "The Romancer" (Le Conteur)

c. 1716

Jean Antoine Watteau

(French, 1684–1721)
France, 18th century

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