Search the Collections

Jean-Antoine Watteau
Birth Date: 
Birth Place: 
Valenciennes (then Flanders)
Death Date: 
Death Place: 
Considered the greatest painter of early eighteenth-century France. He went to Paris in 1702 and became acquainted with Pierre Mariette, who enabled him to study the works of such artists as Jacques Callot, Titian, and Rubens. In the studio of Claude Gillot, he learned theatrical themes, and through Claude Audran, concierge of the Luxembourg Palace, he had the revelatory experience of studying Rubens's Marie de Medici cycle (Paris, Musee du Louvre). Watteau returned to Valenciennes in 1710, where he produced scenes of military life. Upon arriving again in Paris, he met Pierre Crozat, a wealthy amateur, whose collection of drawings was to prove influential in the perfection of the artist's craR. In 1717 Watteau was elected to membership in the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture with Pilgrimage to the Island of Cythera (Paris, Musee du Louvre) as a painter of fe^tes galantes, a genre created especially for him, and. which he refined and amplified as his own pictorial invention. He traveled to England in 1719-20, but poor health brought him back to France, where he died at the age of thirty seven. Watteau's personal style, characterized by a delicate palette and sensitivity to atmosphere, brought him great acclaim during his lifetime.