Study for "The Romancer" (Le Conteur)

Study for "The Romancer" (Le Conteur)

c. 1716

Jean Antoine Watteau

(French, 1684-1721)

Red chalk; red and black chalk (upper left figure)

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.)

Dudley P. Allen Fund 1928.661



Music and the theater were prime sources of inspiration for Watteau; his red chalk studies of musicians pulsate with life. This sheet was a preparatory study for a painting, The Romancer, in which an actor in the costume of Mezzetin, a stock character of the commedia dell’arte, interrupts a guitarist with a bold sexual advance. Another actor dressed as Pierrot peers lasciviously over the young woman’s shoulder; a more detailed study of his head occupies the upper left corner of the sheet. Watteau delineated Mezzetin’s beribboned britches and striped, fitted jacket with confident strokes, but reserved his most crisp, decisive application of chalk to describe the figures’ hands: Mezzetin groping, and the musician resisting.

See also
DR - French
Type of artwork: 
Credit line: 
Dudley P. Allen Fund

Contact us

The information about this object, including provenance information, is based on historic information and may not be currently accurate or complete. Research on objects is an ongoing process, but the information about this object may not reflect the most current information available to CMA. If you notice a mistake or have additional information about this object, please email

To request more information about this object, study images, or bibliography, contact the Ingalls Library Reference Desk.

Is something not working on this page? Please email

Request a digital file from Image Services that is not available through CC0, a detail image, or any image with a color bar. If you have questions about requesting an image, please email