Support: Sturdy weight antique laid paper
Sheet: 30 x 20.9 cm (11 13/16 x 8 1/4 in.); Image: 27.5 x 20 cm (10 13/16 x 7 7/8 in.)
Severance and Greta Millikin Purchase Fund 2008.3
Catalogue raisonné: Dacier and Vuaflart 130
Dressed as stock characters of the Italian commedia dell’arte, an improvisational form of comic theatre, five performers gather beside the curtain of a stage with a garden backdrop. Columbine stands in the center next to Pierrot, who has especially long sleeves and a broad, round collar. Harlequin offers a glimpse of his diamond-pattern coat as he peers over Columbine’s shoulder at the audience. Primarily a painter, Watteau made very few etchings, and this impression of The Clothes Are Italian is very rare. Before the print was published, Charles Simonneau, a professional engraver, heavily reworked the image, ruining the spontaneity of Watteau’s etching. Fortunately, three surviving examples preserve his original, in which shimmering parallel lines bask the performers in an ethereal light.
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