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.
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