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Head of a Man

Antoine Watteau (French, Valenciennes 1684–1721 Nogent-sur-Marne)

Date:
ca. 1718
Medium:
Red and black chalk
Dimensions:
5 7/8 x 5 3/16 in. (14.9 x 13.1 cm)
Classification:
Drawings
Credit Line:
Rogers Fund, 1937
Accession Number:
37.165.107
  • Description

    This expressive sheet is a study for the man's head in Watteau's painting "Mezzetin," also in the Metropolitan Museum. Mezzetin was a character in the popular commedia dell'arte, typically amorous and sentimental. In the Museum's painting, he sits on a stone bench outside a building, playing a guitar and gazing plaintively at an unseen window. The artist placed a female garden statue in the woods behind the Mezzetin, its back turned to the actor, suggesting an unrequited love.

    In this robust red and black study, Watteau established the angle of the head, the uplifted eyes, and the parted lips that he carried over into the painting. In its emotional force and the melding of the two colors of chalk, this sheet recalls the precedent of Rubens, an artist much admired by Watteau.

  • Provenance

    Jules Niel (French, died ca. 1873), according to the Biron sale catalogue.; Gabrielle Niel ; Guillaume de Gontaut-Biron, marquis de Biron , his sale, Galerie Georges Petit, Paris, June 9-11, 1914, lot 63, bought in, (then re-entered the Biron collection, Geneva, and was acquired by the MMA in 1937).

  • Exhibition History

    The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Masterpieces of Fifty Centuries," November 14, 1970–February 14, 1971.

    The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Drawings and Prints: Selections from the Permanent Collection," April 14, 1997–July 20, 1997.

  • Catalogue Raisonné

    Bean and Turcic 1986.333; Rosenberg and Prat 1999.615 (vol. II)

  • References

    Michel Benisovich "The French Drawings of the Metropolitan Museum." The Burlington Magazine. vol. 82, London, March 1943, p. 70.

    Jacob Bean, Lawrence Turcic 15th-18th Century French Drawings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1986, cat. no. 333, p. 297, ill.

    Josephine Lansing Allen "Drawings from the Biron Collection." in The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, vol. 33, New York, March 1938, pp. 77-78, ill.

    Hermann Warner Williams, Jr. "Some French Drawings from the Biron Collection." Art Quarterly. vol. 2, Winter 1939, fig. no. 2, pp. 48-55, ill.

    Walter Mehring European Drawings from the Collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art: A Portfolio of Collotype Reproductions [Vol. 1: Italian Drawings; Vol. 2: Flemish, Dutch, German, Spanish, French, and British drawings; Vol. 3: "New Series": Italian, Flemish, Dutch, German, Spanish, French, and British drawings]. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 3 vols., New York, 1942-1944, also N.S., no. 36., cat. no. 31 (vol.2), fig. no. 31, ill.

    Hans Tietze European Master Drawings in the United States. J. J. Augustin, New York, 1947, cat. no. 83, pp. 166-167.

    Regina Shoolman, Charles E. Slatkin Six Centuries of French Master Drawings in America. Oxford University Press, New York, 1950, fig. no. pl. 25, p. 42, ill.

    Art Treasures of the Metropolitan: A Selection from the European and Asiatic Collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Harry N. Abrams, Inc., New York, 1952, cat. no. 62, pp. 69, 222, ill.

    Karl Theodore Parker, Jacques Mathey Catalogue de l'oeuvre dessiné d'Antoine Watteau. vol. 2, Paris, 1957, cat. no. 726.

    "MMA Bulletin" French Drawings. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, vol. 17, no. 6, New York, February 1959, p. 166, ill.

    Jacob Bean 100 European Drawings in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York Graphic Society, New York, 1964, cat. no. 56, ill.

    James Byam Shaw "The Biron Collection of Venetian Eighteenth-Century Drawings in the Metropolitan Museum of Art." in The Metropolitan Museum Journal. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, vol. 3, New York, 1971, fig. no. 21, p. 257.

    Linda Boyer Gillies, Colta Ives French Drawings and Prints of the Eighteenth Century. Ex. cat. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1972, cat. no. 46.

    Donald Posner Antoine Watteau. Ithaca, New York, 1984, fig. no. pl. 49, pp. 206, 208.

    Marianne Roland Michel Watteau. Un Artiste au XVIIIe siècle. Paris, 1984, fig. no. pl. XXX, p. 143.

    Margaret Morgan Grasselli, Pierre Rosenberg Watteau, 1684-1721. Ex. cat. National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C., Washington, 1984, cat. no. D110, under P49, fig. no. 8, pp. 188, 364-365, ill.

    Pierre Rosenberg, Louis-Antoine Prat Antoine Watteau 1684-1721: Catalogue raisonné des dessins. 3 vols., Milan, 1996, cat. no. 615 (vol. II), pp. 1048-1049, ill.

    Alan Wintermute, The Frick Collection, National Gallery of Canada Watteau and His World: French Drawings from 1700-1750. Ex. cat. 1999-2000, cat. no. 40, pp. 170-171, ill.

    Pierre Rosenberg, Georgia J. Cowart Watteau, Music, and Theater. Ex. cat. Edited by Katharine Baetjer, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2009, cat. no. 31, pp. 84-85, ill.



  • See also
    Who
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    Where
    When
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History
    MetPublications
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