Watteau, Jean-Antoine (1684 - 1721)

Young Woman and Mezzetin

Temporarily away,

Date : Vers 1716
Size : H. 20.5 x l. 17 cm
Inventory number : J 190
Marque de collection : À l'arrière : "C. 52"

There are two studies on this sheet: a graceful young woman, seen full length with her face in profile, lifting her skirt with both hands. We can also see this figure in Les Divertissements champêtres (Entertainment in the Open Air) (London, Wallace Collection) where it appears in the background between two trees.

This sketch showing two distinct silhouettes is to be compared with the two other studies by Watteau in the collections: Études de Chiens (Studies of Dogs) and Léopard s’étirant (Stretching Leopard); all three evoke the world of fêtes galantes (socialising events such as garden parties), brought up to date by the artist. Watteau dresses his model in a young man's "Spanish" costume - puffed beret, short cape and lace neck ruff - as worn by Italian comedy actors. The artist dressed up his friends in Pierrot or Mezzetin outfits and sketched actors in real life action in preparation for his painted works.

The affectedness of the two figures evokes the world of musicians and dancers at socialising events. Watteau uses sanguine in vigorous lines, underlining the hollows of the highly structured fabric folds. The more lightly sketched lines of the faces give them a poetic expression.

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