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Mezzetin

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

Date:
ca. 1718–20
Medium:
Oil on canvas
Dimensions:
21 3/4 x 17 in. (55.2 x 43.2 cm)
Classification:
Paintings
Credit Line:
Munsey Fund, 1934
Accession Number:
34.138
  • Gallery Label

    Mezzetin, a stock comic character of the Italian commedia dell'arte, became an established performer on the Paris stage. Various players were engraved in his costume, which by about 1680 comprised a jacket and knee-britches, a floppy hat, a ruff, and a short cape. Mezzetin was by turns interfering, devious, and lovelorn, but not languorous. His head and his large, angular hands are extraordinarily expressive.

  • Catalogue Entry

    Watteau, the son of a roofer, left Valenciennes for Paris about 1702 to work there as a copyist and assistant to Claude Gillot (1673–1722) and Claude III Audrun (1658–1734). He became interested in theater and fell under the spell of Peter Paul Rubens (1577–1640). In 1709 he returned to Valenciennes but no later than 1712 had settled in Paris and presented himself to the Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture for admission. Exceptionally, he was immediately invited to submit his reception piece. This he completed only in 1717: it was titled "le pélerinage à Lisle de Citere," or "Pilgrimage to the Island of Cythera" (Musée du Louvre, Paris), but then the title was crossed out and replaced in the Académie records with the term "feste galante," which can be described as a sub-genre of Watteau's invention, in which he depicted elegant people amusing themselves in bucolic outdoor settings. Watteau was in London in 1717; back in Paris by 1720, and seriously ill, he moved to the country where he died of tuberculosis in 1721.

    "Mezzetin", a small canvas which was probably painted between 1718 and 1720, is one of Watteau's most brilliant inventions. A comic character, he is depicted with his guitar in the traditional beret, ruff, striped jacket, and knee-britches of the commedia dell'arte, a vernacular musical theater that was popular with all classes of Paris society. Mezzetin was devious and a troublemaker; he pined for love. The highly colored and expressive bearded head and large hands of the figure were first drawn in colored chalks from a model (the Museum is fortunate to own the head study, 37.165.107; see Images), in accordance with the artist's usual practice. The picture once belonged to Catherine the Great of Russia.

    [2010]

  • Provenance

    Jean de Julienne, Paris (by 1735–d. 1766; unpublished inventory, about 1756, no. 157; posthumous inventory, 1766, no. 1112; his estate sale, Rémy and Julliot, Paris, March 30, 1767, no. 253, "Un Mézétin jouant de la guitare, il est assis sur un banc dans un jardin. Ce Tableau est bien conservé, les carnations ont le coloris de Rubens: ces avantages le distinguent. Il est peint sur toile, de 20 pouces de haut, sur 17 de large [54 x 45.9 cm]. Sa forme est ovale," for 700 livres to Rémy, probably for Catherine II); Catherine II, Empress of Russia, St. Petersburg (1767–d. 1796); Russian imperial collection, St. Petersburg (1796–1917); Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg (1917–30; cats., 1903 and 1916, no. 1503; sold to Gulbenkian); Calouste Gulbenkian, Paris (1930; sold to Wildenstein); [Wildenstein, Paris and New York, 1930–34; sold to MMA]

  • Exhibition History

    Art Institute of Chicago. "A Century of Progress," June 1–November 1, 1934, no. 154 (as "Le Mezzetin (Angelo Co[n]stantini, the Actor)," lent by Wildenstein & Co., New York).

    Copenhagen. Charlottenborg Palace. "Exposition de l'art français au XVIIIe siècle / Udstillingen af frankrigs kunst fra det XVIII. aarhundrede," August 25–October 6, 1935, no. 260.

    New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "French Painting and Sculpture of the XVIII Century," November 6, 1935–January 5, 1936, no. 5.

    Paris. Palais National des Arts. "Chefs d'œuvre de l'art français," July–September 1937, no. 231.

    New York. Wildenstein. "Masterpieces from Museums and Private Collections," November 8–December 15, 1951, no. 17.

    New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Art Treasures of the Metropolitan," November 7, 1952–September 7, 1953, no. 127.

    Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. "Masterpieces of Painting in The Metropolitan Museum of Art," September 16–November 1, 1970, unnumbered cat. (p. 66).

    New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Masterpieces of Fifty Centuries," November 15, 1970–February 15, 1971, no. 303.

    New York. Wildenstein & Co., Inc.. "Paris — New York, A Continuing Romance," November 3–December 17, 1977, no. 54.

    Washington. National Gallery of Art. "Watteau, 1684–1721," June 17–September 23, 1984, no. 49.

    Paris. Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais. "Watteau, 1684–1721," October 23, 1984–January 28, 1985, no. 49.

    Berlin. Schloss Charlottenburg. "Watteau, 1684–1721," February 23–May 27, 1985, no. 119.

    Ottawa. National Gallery of Canada. "The Age of Watteau, Chardin, and Fragonard: Masterpieces of French Genre Painting," June 6–September 7, 2003, no. 10.

    Washington. National Gallery of Art. "The Age of Watteau, Chardin, and Fragonard: Masterpieces of French Genre Painting," October 12, 2003–January 11, 2004, no. 10.

    Gemäldegalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin. "The Age of Watteau, Chardin, and Fragonard: Masterpieces of French Genre Painting," February 8–May 9, 2004, no. 10.

    New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Watteau, Music, and Theater," September 22–November 29, 2009, no. 12.

  • References

    L'oeuvre d'Antoine Watteau . . . gravé d'après les tableaux et desseins originaux . . . par les soins de M. de Julienne [called the "Recueil Jullienne"]. Paris, 1735, vol. 1, unpaginated, folio 34 [the engraving by Audran as bound in folio in MMA Drawings and Prints Department], the engraving, an upright rectangle, is inscribed "B. Audran Sculp. / MEZETIN . / du Cabinet de Mr. de Jullienne. / . . . ".

    Catalogue des tableaux de Mr. de Jullienne. [ca. 1756], p. 71, no. 157, ill. opp. p. 71 (watercolor drawing as a horizontal oval in a rectangular frame, in an interior: the "Cabinet," presumably this picture) [Morgan Library & Museum, New York], as "Mezetin jouant de la Guitare par . . . Wateau . . . 23o . . . sur . . . 17o de ht. [45.9 x 62.1 cm, see Ref. Rosenberg 1984; as far as possible in a horizontal oval, the composition appears to be identical to that of the MMA Mezzetin].

    Pierre Jean Mariette. handwritten annotations to his copy of the Jullienne sale catalogue. [1767] [National Art Library, Victoria and Albert Museum, London; published in Edouard Kopp and Jennifer Tonkovich, ed. "Appendix." Jean de Jullienne: Collector & Connoisseur. Exh. cat., Wallace Collection, London, 2011, p. 143], writes that "Ce n'est pas dans ce tableau que Wateau [sic] brille. Il y a trop de maniere".

    P. Hédouin. "Watteau: Catalogue de son oeuvre." L'Artiste, 4th ser., 5 (November 30, 1845), p. 78, no. 43, as the portrait of an actor from the Comédie-Italienne that was for a time on sale in the reading room of M. Branger, rue Laffitte.

    Paul Lacroix. "Musée du Palais de l'Ermitage sous le règne de Catherine II." Revue universelle des arts 13 (1861), p. 178, no. 402.

    Edmond de Goncourt and Jules de Goncourt. Journal entry. 1865 [see Ref. Rosenberg 1984, p. 363, who cites this passage as appearing in "Journal des Goncourt's, mémoires de la vie littéraire," 1888, vol. 2, pp. 245–46, under the date 1865; it was not possible to find the citation in the 1956 Flammarion edition], describe the hands of Mezzetin in this painting [English trans. from Rosenberg 1984]: "how they live, how they speak . . . these pedigreed arched, curved, hands—angry and languid and tormented, these hands of an invalid, of an artist, of capricious elegance tortured, almost diabolic . . .".

    G[ustav]. F[riedrich]. Waagen. Die Gemäldesammlung in der Kaiserlichen Eremitage zu St. Petersburg. 2nd ed. St. Petersburg, 1870, pp. 304–5, no. 1503.

    Edmond de Goncourt. Catalogue raisonné de l'oeuvre peint, dessiné et gravé d'Antoine Watteau. Paris, 1875, pp. 80–81, no. 86, describes three paintings of Mezzetin by Watteau: an oval on canvas ("H. 20 p., L. 17 p.") [21.3 x 18.1 in., apparently our picture, which was once framed as an oval]; a smaller picture on wood ("H. 1 pied, l. 9 p."), in the sale of the painter Coypel in 1753; and a third on wood ("H. 9 p., L. 7 p."), in the sale of Jullienne's widow in 1778; states that one of these three pictures figures is no. 1503 in the collection of the Hermitage.

    R. Dohme. "Die Französische Schule des XVIII. Jahrhunderts, 1. Antoine Watteau." Jahrbuch der königlich preussischen Kunstsammlungen 4 (1883), p. 241 n. 1.

    John W. Mollett. Watteau. London, 1883, p. 66, no. 86.

    Emil Hannover. Antoine Watteau. Berlin, 1889, pp. 70, 124 n. 94.

    Paul Mantz. "Watteau (deuxiéme article)." Gazette des beaux-arts, 3rd ser., 1 (1889), ill. opp. p. 190 (engraving by L. Muller).

    G. Dargenty [Arthur d'Echérac]. Antoine Watteau. Paris, 1891, ill. p. 63 (Audran engraving).

    Georges Duplessis. Les Audran. Paris, [1892], p. 68, ill. p. 71 (Audran engraving).

    Paul Mantz. Antoine Watteau. Paris, 1892, p. 182, ill. opp. p. 88 (Muller engraving).

    Claude Phillips. Antoine Watteau. London, 1895, p. 72.

    Lady [Emilia Francis Strong] Dilke. French Painters of the XVIIIth Century. London, 1899, p. 82, mentions "a replica with variations" in the Musée Condé [Chantilly].

    A. Somof. "École anglaise et école française." Ermitage Impérial: Catalogue de la galerie des tableaux. 3, St. Petersburg, 1903, pp. 107–8, no. 1503, ill., as purchased at Jullienne's sale in 1765 [sic for 1767] for 708 livres 1 sou, "probably for the Empress Catherine".

    L. de Fourcaud. "Antoine Watteau." Revue de l'art ancien et moderne 9 (January–June 1904), pp. 137, 139–40, discusses it with "La finette" and "L'indifferent" (both Louvre, Paris), as comic types treated in isolation.

    Virgile Josz. Antoine Watteau. Paris, [1904], ill. between pp. 110–11.

    J. J. Foster. French Art from Watteau to Prud'hon. 1, London, 1905, p. 100, pl. 29.

    Nicolas Wrangell. Les chefs-d'oeuvre de la galerie de tableaux de l'Ermitage Impérial à St.-Pétersbourg. London, [1909], pp. XXXII, ill. p. 219.

    Edmond Pilon. Watteau et son école. Brussels, 1912, p. 95, ill. opp. p. 92.

    E. Heinrich Zimmermann. Watteau: Des Meisters Werke. Stuttgart, 1912, p. 187, no. 41, pl. 41.

    Raymond Bouyer. "Les éprouvés de la guerre: Le Musée de l'Ermitage, à Petrograd." Le Cousin Pons 3 (January 15, 1918), p. 315, ill. p. 313.

    Alexander Benua. Putevoditel po kartinnoi galereye imperatorskago Ermitazha [Guide to the Paintings Galleries of the Hermitage]. St. Petersburg, [192?], pp. 172–75, no. 1503, ill. p. 153, places it in Watteau's last years, possibly even after his return from England.

    Émile Dacier. "Les premiers amateurs de Watteau en France." Revue de l'art ancien et moderne 40 (June–December 1921), pp. 118, 120.

    Émile Dacier and Albert Vuaflart. "Catalogue." Jean de Jullienne et les graveurs de Watteau au XVIIIe siècle. 3, Paris, 1922, pp. 100–101, no. 215, list Watteau's paintings of this subject: one in the sale of Charles-Antoine Coypel, a smaller one in the La Haye sale of 1754, one with Jean de Jullienne and included in his sale, an oval that measured 45.9 x 54.9 cm [the MMA painting], and one that was in the posthumous sale of Mme de Jullienne in 1778, which they believe is possibly identifiable with the "Donneur de sérénade" in the Musée Condé; mention the picture in the Hermitage [now MMA], not connecting it with the painting in the Jullienne sale; observe that the costume appears in the "Livre de scènes comiques inventées par Gillot".

    Émile Dacier and Albert Vuaflart. "Historique." Jean de Jullienne et les graveurs de Watteau au XVIIIe siècle. 2, Paris, 1922, pp. 97, 102, refer to it as an oval painting engraved in a rectangular format.

    Edmund Hildebrandt. Antoine Watteau. Berlin, 1922, pp. 27–28, pl. 5.

    Louis Réau. Histoire de la peinture française au XVIIIe siècle. 1, Paris, 1925, p. 18, pl. 12.

    Louis Réau in Les peintres français du XVIIIe siècle: Histoire des vies et catalogue des oeuvres. 1, Paris, 1928, p. 34, no. 57.

    Louis Réau. "Catalogue de l'art français dans les musées russes." Bulletin de la Société de l'Histoire de l'Art Français (1928), p. 227, no. 414, ill. opp. p. 226.

    Émile Dacier, Albert Vuaflart, and Jacques Herold. "Notices et documents biographiques." Jean de Jullienne et les graveurs de Watteau au XVIIIe siècle. 1, Paris, 1929, pp. 223–24.

    Louis Réau. Catalogue de l'art français dans les musées russes. Paris, 1929, p. 67, no. 414, ill. opp. p. 66 [reprint of catalogue published in Ref. Réau 1928].

    Louis Réau and Georges Loukomski. Catherine La Grande, inspiratrice d'art et mécène. Paris, 1930, p. 84, pl. 54.

    R. H. Wile[n]ski. French Painting. Boston, 1931, p. 108, pl. 44b.

    Émile Dacier. "La curiosité au XVIIIe siècle: La vente Charles Coypel d'après les notes manuscrites de P.-J. Mariette." Revue de l'art ancien et moderne 61 (January–May 1932), pp. 131, 133, ill. (the Audran engraving), erroneously identifies the "Joueur de guitare" that appeared in the Charles Coypel sale with the work engraved by Audran [the MMA painting].

    Catalogue of A Century of Progress Exhibition of Paintings and Sculpture, 1934. Exh. cat., Art Institute of Chicago. Chicago, 1934, pp. 27–28, no. 154, ill. (color, frontispiece), as "Le Mezzetin (Angelo Co[n]stantini, the Actor)".

    Exposition de l'art français au XVIIIe siècle. Exh. cat., Charlottenborg Palace. Copenhagen, 1935, pp. 80–81, no. 260, ill. (frontispiece).

    Harry B. Wehle. "Le Mezzetin by Antoine Watteau." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 30 (January 1935), pp. 12–18, ill. (overall on cover, and detail), believes the same actor appears as Mezzetin in Watteau's painting, "Love in the Italian Theatre"; dates the MMA picture about 1718–19.

    Charles Sterling in Chefs d'œuvre de l'art français. Exh. cat., Palais National des Arts. Paris, 1937, pp. 115–16, no. 231.

    Josephine L. Allen. "Drawings from the Biron Collection." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 33 (March 1938), pp. 77–78, publishes Watteau's red-chalk drawing of the head of Mezzetin as "Head of Luigi Riccoboni".

    K. T. Parker. "Netherlandish, German, French and Spanish Schools." Catalogue of the Collection of Drawings in the Ashmolean Museum. 1, Oxford, 1938, p. 270, observes that a red chalk drawing of Mezzetin (cat no. 560), which he ascribes to "?Watteau," shows a close affinity to the MMA picture.

    Gilbert W. Barker. Antoine Watteau. London, 1939, p. 137.

    H. W. Williams Jr. "Some French Drawings from the Biron Collection." Art Quarterly 2 (1939), p. 51, fig. 3.

    Hans Vollmer in Allgemeines Lexikon der bildenden Künstler. 35, Leipzig, 1942, p. 193, dates it about 1717.

    Michael Benisovich. "The French Drawings of the Metropolitan Museum." Burlington Magazine 82 (March 1943), p. 70.

    A. E. Brinckmann. J. A. Watteau. Vienna, 1943, pp. 29, 60, no. 62, ill.

    "Flemish, Dutch, German, Spanish, French, and British Drawings." European Drawings from the Collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. 2, New York, 1943, mentioned under pl. 31.

    Xavier de Courville. Un apôtre de l'art du théâtre au XVIIIème siècle, Luigi Riccoboni dit Lélio, Tome II (1716–1731): L'expérience française. 2, Paris, 1945, pp. 191–200, pl. 46 [see Ref. Sterling 1955].

    Hans Tietze. European Master Drawings in the United States. New York, 1947, p. 166.

    Millia Davenport. The Book of Costume. New York, 1948, vol. 2, p. 664, no. 1780, ill. (cropped).

    Michel Florisoone. La peinture française: Le dix-huitième siècle. Paris, 1948, p. 34, colorpl. 18, calls our Mezzetin a portrait of Sirois, father-in-law of Gersaint [Watteau's friend and patron].

    Hélène Adhémar. Watteau, sa vie — son œuvre. Paris, 1950, pp. 100, 119, 127, 230, no. 206, pl. 144 (detail), and colorpl. 145, doubts that the MMA picture was the one owned by Jullienne.

    René Huyghe in Hélène Adhémar. Watteau, sa vie — son œuvre. Paris, 1950, pp. 28, 47, 54 n. 25, p. 56 n. 44.

    Regina Shoolman and Charles E. Slatkin. Six Centuries of French Master Drawings in America. New York, 1950, p. 42.

    René Huyghe. "Vers une psychologie de l'art." Revue des arts 3 (September 1951), pp. 134–35, 138–39, 141, ill. (overall and details).

    Art Treasures of the Metropolitan: A Selection from the European and Asiatic Collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1952, p. 230, no. 127, ill. (color).

    Jean Lévy. "Watteau's 'Le Lorgneur'." Burlington Magazine 96 (July 1954), p. 198.

    Theodore Rousseau Jr. "A Guide to the Picture Galleries." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 12, part 2 (January 1954), p. 5.

    Charles Sterling. "XV–XVIII Centuries." The Metropolitan Museum of Art: A Catalogue of French Paintings. 1, Cambridge, Mass., 1955, pp. 105–8, ill., states that Watteau did not depict particular actors; places the picture in Watteau's latest period, about 1719; is convinced that it was the Mezzetin described in Jullienne's sale as an upright oval.

    Hélène Adhémar. "Watteau et ses amis." L'Oeil no. 14 (February 1956), p. 20, identifies the model as Watteau's friend Sirois.

    Jacques Mathey. "Une feuille d'études pour le 'Gilles' et le 'Mezzetin à la guitare' de Watteau." Münchner Jahrbuch der bildenden Kunst, 3rd ser., 7 (1956), p. 215.

    K. T. Parker and J. Mathey. Antoine Watteau: Catalogue complet de son œuvre dessiné. Paris, 1957, vol. 2, pp. 337, 339, under no. 726, relate the MMA study for Mezzetin's head to a series of drawings made in preparation for Crozat's Seasons in about 1712–13; find the model in this study particularly close to the head of a man in a red and black chalk drawing in the Jousset collection, Paris (no. 510).

    Charles Sterling. Great French Painting in the Hermitage. New York, [1958], p. 231 n. 12.

    Jacques Mathey. "Le rôle décisif des dessins dans l'oeuvre de Watteau." Connaissance des arts no. 86 (April 1959), p. 43, ill.

    J. Mathey. Antoine Watteau: Peintures réapparues . . . Paris, 1959, pp. 36, 55, 68, identifies the model as the one who posed for Watteau's sketches of male nudes, dating it April 1715, when Watteau was again living with Crozat.

    Pierre Descargues. The Hermitage. London, 1961, p. 32, ill. opp. p. 32.

    Albert P. de Mirimonde. "Les sujets musicaux chez Antoine Watteau." Gazette des beaux-arts, 6th ser., 58 (November 1961), pp. 250, 252–53, 261, fig. 1, analyzes the guitar technique in detail and describes the quality of music it would produce.

    Jean Cailleux. "A Rediscovered Painting by Watteau: 'La Partie Quarrée' [in L'art du dix-huitième siècle, an advertisement supplement to Burlington Magazine]." Burlington Magazine 104 (April 1962), p. iii, pl. 7 (detail of guitar), notes that the identical instrument is represented in Watteau's "La partie quarré" (Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco).

    A. P. de Mirimonde. "Les instruments de musique chez Antoine Watteau." Bulletin de la Société de l'Histoire de l'Art Français (1962), p. 49.

    Allardyce Nicoll. The World of Harlequin: A Critical Study of the Commedia dell'Arte. Cambridge, 1963, p. 78, fig. 51.

    Jacob Bean. 100 European Drawings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, [1964?], unpaginated, under no. 56 (MMA drawing for head), places the painting late in Watteau's career, about 1719.

    Colin Eisler. "Two Immortalized Landscapes—Watteau and the Recueil Jullienne." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 24 (January 1966), p. 166, fig. 3.

    Michael Levey. Rococo to Revolution: Major Trends in Eighteenth-Century Painting. New York, 1966, pp. 72, 78, colorpl. 41.

    Anita Brookner. Watteau. London, 1967, p. 38, colorpl. 37, dates it about 1718–19.

    Pierre Schneider. The World of Watteau, 1684–1721. New York, 1967, p. 104, ill. in color (p. 105, and detail on dust jacket).

    Ettore Camesasca in The Complete Paintings of Watteau. New York, 1968, pp. 119, 121–22, no. 193, ill. (black and white and colorpl. 56) [same text as Ref. Montagni 1968].

    E. C. Montagni in L'opera completa di Watteau. Milan, 1968, pp. 118–19, no. 193, ill. (black and white and colorpl. 56) [same text as Camesasca 1968].

    José de Azeredo Perdigão. Calouste Gulbenkian, Collector. Lisbon, 1969, pp. 109–10, 113, 229
    , describes Gulbenkian's negotiations in May and June of 1930 with the U.S.S.R. for the purchase from the Hermitage of Houdon's Diana, Rembrandt's Pallas Athene, and four other paintings, including the MMA Mezzetin.

    Raymond Charmet. French Paintings in Russian Museums. New York, [1970], p. 8, states that Galitzin, Catherine II's ambassador in Paris, acquired the Mezzetin for her in 1767.

    Introduction by Kenneth Clark in Masterpieces of Fifty Centuries. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1970, pp. 274, 277, no. 303, ill. pp. 58 (color) and 274.

    Edith A. Standen in Masterpieces of Painting in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Exh. cat., Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. New York, [1970], p. 66, ill. (color).

    Calvin Tomkins. Merchants and Masterpieces: The Story of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1970, p. 225 [rev., enl. ed., 1989].

    Jean Ferré. Watteau. Madrid, [1972], vol. 1, in chronology under the dates 1753 and 1877; vol. 2, p. 461, fig. 319 (Audran engraving), p. 659, fig. 418 (color); vol. 3, p. 811, fig. 600 (detail), pp. 812, 898–901, no. A 37, figs. 723–727; vol. 4, pp. 1099, 1103.

    Julius S. Held and Donald Posner. 17th and 18th Century Art: Baroque Painting, Sculpture, Architecture. Englewood Cliffs, N.J., [1972], p. 303, colorpl. 45, date it about 1718.

    Saint-Paulien in Jean Ferré. Watteau. Madrid, [1972], vol. 1, pp. 151, 208, 215–16, 251, 264.

    Yvonne Boerlin-Brodbeck Universität Basel. Antoine Watteau und das Theater. 1973, pp. 170, 173–76, 231, 256 n. 49.

    Yu. Zolotov. Antoine Watteau. Leningrad [St. Petersburg], 1973, pp. 14, 25.

    John Hayes. Gainsborough: Paintings and Drawings. London, 1975, p. 201, pl. 3 (detail of landscape).

    Ronald Paulson. Emblem and Expression: Meaning in English Art of the Eighteenth Century. Cambridge, Mass., 1975, pp. 95–97, fig. 49, observes that here "Mezzetin, the coarse servant, has become a rather delicate figure".

    Pierre Rosenberg. The Age of Louis XV: French Painting, 1710–1774. Exh. cat., Toledo Museum of Art. [Toledo], 1975, p. 85, no. 121, pl. 21, colorpl. 4, as usually dated around 1718–20.

    Margaretta Salinger in "The Price Was Not Too High." The Chase, the Capture: Collecting at the Metropolitan. New York, 1975, pp. 198–200, fig. 50.

    Oliver T. Banks Princeton University. Watteau and the North: Studies in the Dutch and Flemish Baroque Influence on French Rococo Painting. New York, 1977, pp. 121, 183–84, figs. 35, 119 (overall and detail), relates our Mezzetin to several Dutch baroque paintings with musicians and notes that "the single figure of a musician often served as a vanitas allegory symbolizing the transience of pleasure".

    Emmanuel Bondeville in "Watteau et la musique." Pèlerinage à Watteau. Exh. cat., Hôtel de la Monnaie. Paris, 1977, vol. 1, p. 101.

    Martin P. Eidelberg Princeton University. Watteau's Drawings: Their Use and Significance. New York, 1977, pp. i–ii, 22–24, 28, fig. 8, discusses the drawing related to this composition in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford.

    A. P. de Mirimonde. L'iconographie musicale sous les rois Bourbons: La musique dans les arts plastiques (XVIIe–XVIIIe siècles). 2, Paris, 1977, pp. 34–35.

    Michel Sanvoisin in "Les musiciens de Watteau." Pèlerinage à Watteau. Exh. cat., Hôtel de la Monnaie. Paris, 1977, vol. 1, pp. 106–9, calls the guitar in this picture similar to the simpler instruments made by Groselet.

    Denys Sutton in Paris—New York: A Continuing Romance. Exh. cat., Wildenstein. New York, 1977, pp. 53–54, no. 54, fig. 31.

    Howard Hibbard. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1980, pp. 356, 367, fig. 664 (color).

    Robert C. Williams. Russian Art and American Money, 1900–1940. Cambridge, Mass., 1980, pp. 149, 160–61, 180, 182.

    Margaret Morgan Grasselli in Watteau, 1684–1721. Exh. cat., National Gallery of Art. Washington, 1984, p. 188, calls the MMA drawing (cat. no. 110) a true preparatory study, probably made when the painting was already underway, and notes that the slight indications of the large beret sketched around the head show that Watteau had Mezzetin already in mind when he made it; finds unconvincing Parker and Methey's [Ref. 1957] identification of the sitter with the model who posed for nude studies for the Crozat Seasons.

    François Moureau in Margaret Morgan Grasselli and Pierre Rosenberg. Watteau, 1684–1721. Exh. cat., National Gallery of Art. Washington, 1984, pp. 509–10, 528, 535–36, ill. (details), describes the costume as typical of Mezzetin in the Italian Theater.

    Donald Posner. Antoine Watteau. Ithaca, N.Y., 1984, pp. 57–58, 206, 208, 224–25, 258, 288 n. 16, colorpl. 48, observes that the same sitter seems to have posed for a number of Watteau's studies and was therefore almost certainly a professional model.

    Marianne Roland Michel. Watteau: An Artist of the Eighteenth Century. New York, 1984, pp. 156–58, 204, 266, 269, 272–73, fig. 144, colorpl. 38 (detail of head), dates it towards 1717–19, later than the Chantilly Mezzetin, and considers it likely to be a portrait of someone close to the artist.

    Pierre Rosenberg et al. in Watteau, 1684–1721. Exh. cat., National Gallery of Art. Washington, 1984, pp. 246, 362–65, no. 49, ill. p. 363 (color), fig. 10 (Audran engraving), comments on the presence of the same statue in the well-known engraving depicting Watteau and Jullienne together (fig. 1), and suggests that "her" presence in both works may indicate that it was conceived as an allegorical portrait of Jullienne; notes that the figure of Mezzetin at the far left of "Harlequin, Emperor in the Moon" (Musée des Beaux-Arts, Nantes)—which he ascribes to Watteau rather than Gillot, in or shortly after 1707—foreshadows the Mezzetin in the MMA picture; observes that identification of the MMA painting with the Mezzetin in Jullienne's 1767 sale has been wrongly questioned.

    Helmut Börsch-Supan. Watteau, 1684–1721: Führer zur Ausstellung im Schloß Charlottenburg. Exh. cat., Schloss Charlottenburg. [Berlin], 1985, pp. 80–81, no. 119, ill., wonders if the woods and statue behind Mezzetin are from Watteau's own hand and suggests the picture was found unfinished at Watteau's death.

    Denys Sutton. "Antoine Watteau—Enigmatic Ironist." Apollo 121 (March 1985), p. 156, ill. on cover (color).

    Jacob Bean with the assistance of Lawrence Turcic. 15th–18th Century French Drawings in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1986, p. 297.

    Youri Zolotov. Antoine Watteau: Gemälde und Zeichnungen in sowjetischen Museen. Düsseldorf, 1986, pp. 10, 13, ill.

    Yvonne Boerlin-Brodbeck. "La figure assise dans un paysage." Antoine Watteau (1684–1721): Le peintre, son temps et sa légende. Paris, 1987, p. 167, pl. 63, mentions this Mezzetin among Watteau's subjects isolated in landscapes, noting that they were the source of the Romantic topos for the melancholic Watteau.

    Martin Eidelberg. "Watteau in the Atelier of Gillot." Antoine Watteau (1684–1721): Le peintre, son temps et sa légende. Paris, 1987, p. 55, pl. 63, notes that the pose of Mezzetin in the Nantes "Harlequin, Emperor in the Moon" and in the MMA painting "is a matter of theatrical convention and does not provide proof of authorship".

    Florence Gétreau. "Watteau et la musique: Réalité et interprétations." Antoine Watteau (1684–1721): Le peintre, son temps et sa légende. Paris, 1987, p. 241, pl. 63, fig. 18 (detail).

    Thierry Lefrançois. "L'influence d'Antoine Watteau sur l'oeuvre de Charles Coypel." Antoine Watteau (1684–1721): Le peintre, son temps et sa légende. Paris, 1987, p. 65, pl. 63.

    Evanghélos A. Moutsopoulos. "Les structures de la temporalité chez Watteau." Antoine Watteau (1684–1721): Le peintre, son temps et sa légende. Paris, 1987, p. 147, pl. 63.

    Kimerly Rorschach in Claude to Corot: The Development of Landscape Painting in France. Exh. cat., Colnaghi. New York, 1990, pp. 111–12, fig. 2, remarks that one would expect a graceful nude Venus to serve as garden statuary, and concludes that this statue, "draped in a fashion that approximates contemporary dress," must allude to a "more particular contemporary personage—the loved one".

    Étienne Jollet. Watteau: Les fêtes galantes. Paris, 1994, pp. 54–56, ill. (color).

    Nicole Garnier-Pelle. Chantilly, Musée Condé: Peintures du XVIIIe siècle. Paris, 1995, pp. 152–53.

    Pierre Rosenberg and Louis-Antoine Prat. Antoine Watteau, 1684–1721: Catalogue raisonné des dessins. Milan, 1996, vol. 2, p. 1048, date the MMA drawing about 1718, but are not convinced it is a study for our picture, in part because the ruff has been omitted.

    Alan Wintermute. Watteau and His World: French Drawing from 1700 to 1750. Exh. cat., Frick Art Museum. London, 1999, p. 170, fig. 91, believes that Watteau made the chalk study after the composition of the painting was laid out.

    Helmut Börsch-Supan. Antoine Watteau, 1684–1721. Cologne, 2000, pp. 124–25, ill. (color).

    Julie Anne Plax. Watteau and the Cultural Politics of Eighteenth-Century France. Cambridge, 2000, pp. 131, 135, 138–39, fig. 52, using this Mezzetin as a case in point, observes that "Watteau's Harlequins, Mezzetins, and Pierrots rarely match the physical types or the stylized postures and movements belonging to the characters that their costumes represent".

    Renaud Temperini. Watteau. Paris, 2002, pp. 119, 146, no. 102, ill. (color), as almost unanimously dated between 1717–19, before Watteau's stay in London.

    Alan Wintermute in The Age of Watteau, Chardin, and Fragonard: Masterpieces of French Genre Painting. Exh. cat., National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa. New Haven, 2003, pp. 140–41, 357, no. 10, ill. (color), remarks that "this portrait of Love's martyr [is] exceptional in Watteau's oeuvre, and an unsurpassed image of romantic aspiration and torment".

    Joseph Baillio et al. The Arts of France from François Ier to Napoléon Ier. Exh. cat., Wildenstein & Co., Inc. New York, [2005], pp. 53, 72, no. 24, ill., date it about 1710.

    Katja Schmitz-von Ledebur in Goya: Prophet der Moderne. Exh. cat., Alte Nationalgalerie, Berlin. Cologne, 2005, pp. 66, 348, ill. (color), remarks that the tapestry "El majo de la guitarra" (Prado, Madrid), following Goya's cartoon of 1779–80, is closely related to Watteau's "Mezzetin"; notes that both allude to Jacob Cats's "Quid Non Sentit Amor," an emblem published in 1627 (Proteus of te Minne-Beelden verandert im Sinne-Beelden, XLIII, S. 254).

    Julie Anne Plax. "Belonging to the In Crowd: Watteau and the Bonds of Art and Friendship." French Genre Painting in the Eighteenth Century. Washington, 2007, pp. 53–54, 64–65, fig. 9, claims in error that this painting of Mezzetin was not included in Jean de Jullienne's "Oeuvre gravé" [but see Ref. Jullienne 1735], and argues that this collection of engravings "functioned as a promotional catalogue of works that could be purchased through Jullienne".

    Colin B. Bailey in French Art of the Eighteenth Century at The Huntington. [San Marino, Calif.], 2008, p. 342, fig. 130, observes that this portrayal of Mezzetin "could not be further removed from his boorish theatrical persona".

    Katharine Baetjer in Watteau, Music, and Theater. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2009, pp. 44–47, no. 12, ill. (color) and color detail on dust jacket.

    Georgia J. Cowart in Watteau, Music, and Theater. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2009, p. 13.

    Perrin Stein in Watteau, Music, and Theater. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2009, pp. 82, 84, believes that Watteau formulated this composition before making the drawn study for it, "Head of a Man".

    Isabelle Tillerot. Jean de Jullienne et les collectionneurs de son temps: un regard singulier sur le tableau. Paris, 2010, pp. 136, 388–89, no. 210, fig. 23, colorpl. XXXI, illustrates plate 29 of the 1756 Jullienne catalogue showing the "Cabinet avant la Gallerie Côté opposée à la Porte d'Entrée".

    Jennifer Tonkovich in Christoph Martin Vogtherr and Jennifer Tonkovich. Jean de Jullienne: Collector & Connoisseur. Exh. cat., Wallace Collection. London, 2011, ill. p. 68 (color), illustrates plate 29 from the 1756 Jullienne collection catalogue showing the elevation of the "Cabinet avant la Gallerie", including this work at upper left.

    Rochelle Ziskin. Sheltering Art: Collecting and Social Identity in Early Eighteenth-Century Paris. University Park, Pa., 2012, pp. 200, 317 n. 123.

    The Libertine: The Art of Love in Eighteenth-Century France. New York, 2013, ill. p. 146 (color).

    Corinne Le Bitouzé in Antoine Watteau (1684–1721): La leçon de musique. Exh. cat., Palais des Beaux-Arts de Bruxelles. Brussels, 2013, p. 204, fig. 40 (color), under no. 122.

    Sophie Raux and Florence Gétreau in Antoine Watteau (1684–1721): La leçon de musique. Exh. cat., Palais des Beaux-Arts de Bruxelles. Brussels, 2013, p. 122, under no. 47.

    Christoph Martin Vogtherr in Antoine Watteau (1684–1721): La leçon de musique. Exh. cat., Palais des Beaux-Arts de Bruxelles. Brussels, 2013, p. 205, under no. 123.



  • Notes

    An engraving of this painting by Benoît Audran was published in the Recueil Jullienne in 1735. The engraving shows the painting reversed; the legend states that it belonged to Jean de Jullienne (whose picture was described as an oval in his 1767 posthumous sale). The MMA painting was once framed as an oval, as the slight discoloration of its corners makes apparent.

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