Mezzetin, a stock comic character of the Italian commedia dell’arte, became an established performer on the Paris stage, but was an innovative subject for painting in Watteau’s lifetime. Here Mezzetin inhabits the overgrown gardens beloved by Watteau. His costume was typically comprised of a striped jacket and knee-britches, a floppy hat, a ruff, and a short cape; his personality was by turns interfering, devious, and lovelorn, as indicated by the distant female statue who turns her back to him. Watteau’s delicate touch, especially evident in the figure’s hands and clothing, is exceptionally well preserved in this painting.
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 1719; 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 Met is fortunate to own the head study, 37.165.107), in accordance with the artist's usual practice. The picture once belonged to Catherine the Great of Russia.
Katharine Baetjer 2010
Jean de Julienne, Paris (by 1735–d. 1766; unpublished inventory, about 1756, no. 157; posthumous inventory, 1766, no. 1112; his estate sale, Rémy and Julliot, Paris, March 30, 1767, no. 253, "Un Mézétin jouant de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. Sa forme est ovale," for 700 livres to Rémy); Catherine II, Empress of Russia, St. Petersburg (about 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 The Met]
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 14, 1970–June 1, 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.
Brisbane. Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art. "European Masterpieces from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York," June 12–October 17, 2021, unnumbered cat.
Osaka. Osaka City Museum of Fine Arts. "European Masterpieces from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York," November 13, 2021–January 16, 2022.
Tokyo. National Art Center. "European Masterpieces from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York," February 9–May 30, 2022.
L'oeuvre d'Antoine Watteau . . . gravé d'après les tableaux et desseins originaux . . . par les soins de M. de Julienne. Paris, 1735, vol. 1, unpaginated, folio 34.
P. Hédouin. "Watteau: Catalogue de son oeuvre." L'artiste, 4th ser., 5 (November 30, 1845), p. 78, no. 43, as 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, quoting from a catalogue published in 1774.
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: an oval on canvas (H. 20 p., L. 17 p.), our picture; a smaller one on wood (H. 1 pied, L. 9 p.), in the 1753 sale of the painter Coypel; and a third, still smaller, on wood (H. 9 p., L. 7 p.), in the 1778 sale of Jullienne's widow; states that one of these is no. 1503 in the Hermitage.
W[ilhelm von]. Bode and R[obert]. Dohme. "Die Ausstellung von Gemälden älterer Meister im Berliner Privatbesitz." 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 (L. Muller engraving).
G. Dargenty [Arthur d'Echérac]. Antoine Watteau. Paris, 1891, ill. p. 63 (Audran engraving).
Georges Duplessis. Les Audran. Paris, , 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.
A. Somof. Ermitage Impérial: Catalogue de la galerie des tableaux. Vol. 3, École anglaise et école française. St. Petersburg, 1903, pp. 107–8, no. 1503, ill., as purchased at Jullienne's sale in 1765 for 708 livres 1 sou, "probably" for the Empress Catherine.
Virgile Josz. Antoine Watteau. Paris, , ill. between pp. 110–11.
L. de Fourcaud. "Antoine Watteau." Revue de l'art ancien et moderne 9 (January–June 1904), pp. 137, 139–40, ill. opp. p. 96 (Audran engraving).
J. J. Foster. French Art from Watteau to Prud'hon. Vol. 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, , 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 [Benois]. Putevoditel po kartinnoi galereye imperatorskago Ermitazha. St. Petersburg, [192?], pp. 172–75, no. 1503, ill. p. 153, places it in Watteau's last years, possibly after his return from England.
Emile Dacier. "Les premiers amateurs de Watteau en France." Revue de l'art ancien et moderne 40 (June–December 1921), pp. 118, 120, as different from the Hermitage picture.
Edmund Hildebrandt. Antoine Watteau. Berlin, 1922, pp. 27–29, pl. 5.
Emile Dacier and Albert Vuaflart. Jean de Jullienne et les graveurs de Watteau au XVIIIe siècle. Vol. 2, Historique. Paris, 1922, pp. 58, 67, 93, 97, 102, 132, 151, refer to it as an oval engraved as a rectangle.
Emile Dacier and Albert Vuaflart. Jean de Jullienne et les graveurs de Watteau au XVIIIe siècle. Vol. 3, Catalogue. Paris, 1922, pp. 100–101, no. 215, list Watteau's paintings of this subject: with Jean de Jullienne and in his sale, an oval, 45.9 x 54.9 cm; in the 1753 sale of Charles-Antoine Coypel; in the1754 sale of La Haye; and in the 1778 posthumous sale of Mme de Jullienne, possibly the work in the Musée Condé; mention the Hermitage picture, but do not connect it with the Jullienne sale; observe that the costume appears in the "Livre de scènes comiques inventées par Gillot".
Louis Réau. Histoire de la peinture française au XVIIIe siècle. Vol. 1, Paris, 1925, p. 18, pl. 12.
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 [reprinted, Paris, 1929, p. 67, no. 414, ill. opp. p. 66].
Louis Réau inLes peintres français du XVIIIe siècle: Histoire des vies et catalogue des oeuvres. Ed. Louis Dimier. Vol. 1, Paris, 1928, p. 34, no. 57.
Emile Dacier, Albert Vuaflart, and Jacques Herold. Jean de Jullienne et les graveurs de Watteau au XVIIIe siècle. Vol. 1, Notices et documents biographiques. Paris, 1929, pp. 223–24.
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.
Emile 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. (Audran engraving), erroneously identifies the Watteau in the Coypel sale with the work engraved by Audran.
Daniel Catton Rich, ed. 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 Costantini, the Actor)".
C. J. Bulliet. 1934 Art Masterpieces in a Century of Progress Fine Arts Exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago. Chicago, 1934, unpaginated, no. 37, ill.
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), dates the picture about 1718–19 and rejects the identification as Costantini, proposing instead Luigi Riccoboni, who played the role in Paris beginning in 1716.
J. Lejeaux, ed. Exposition de l'art français au XVIIIe siècle. Exh. cat., Charlottenborg Palace. Copenhagen, 1935, pp. 80–81, no. 260, ill. (frontispiece).
Charles Sterling inChefs d'œuvre de l'art français. Exh. cat., Palais National des Arts. Paris, 1937, pp. 115–16, no. 231, as painted ca. 1515–17.
K. T. Parker. Catalogue of the Collection of Drawings in the Ashmolean Museum. Vol. 1, Netherlandish, German, French and Spanish Schools. 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.
Josephine L. Allen. "Drawings from the Biron Collection." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 33 (March 1938), pp. 77–78, identifies Watteau's drawing of the head of Mezzetin as Luigi Riccoboni.
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 inAllgemeines Lexikon der bildenden Künstler. Ed. Hans Vollmer. Vol. 35, Leipzig, 1942, p. 193.
A. E. Brinckmann. J. A. Watteau. Vienna, 1943, pp. 29, 60, no. 62, ill.
Michael Benisovich. "The French Drawings of the Metropolitan Museum." Burlington Magazine 82 (March 1943), p. 70.
European Drawings from the Collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Vol. 2, Flemish, Dutch, German, Spanish, French, and British Drawings. New York, 1943, under no. 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. Vol. 2, Paris, 1945, pp. 191–200, pl. 46.
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 Mezzetin a portrait of Sirois, father-in-law of Gersaint.
Hélène Adhémar. Watteau, sa vie — son œuvre. Paris, 1950, pp. 100, 119, 127, 230, no. 206, pl. 144 (detail), and colorpl. 145, as Sirois, doubts that the picture was owned by Jullienne.
Regina Shoolman and Charles E. Slatkin. Six Centuries of French Master Drawings in America. New York, 1950, p. 42.
René Huyghe in Hélène Adhémar. Watteau, sa vie — son œuvre. Paris, 1950, pp. 28, 47, 54 n. 25, p. 56 n. 44.
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).
Josephine L. Allen and Elizabeth E. Gardner. A Concise Catalogue of the European Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1954, p.102.
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. The Metropolitan Museum of Art: A Catalogue of French Paintings. Vol. 1, XV–XVIII Centuries. Cambridge, Mass., 1955, pp. 105–8, ill., states that Watteau probably did not depict particular actors; dates the picture about 1719 and is convinced that it is the Mezzetin described in Jullienne's sale.
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.
Hélène Adhémar. "Watteau et ses amis." L'Oeil no. 14 (February 1956), p. 20, as Sirois.
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 to drawings made in preparation for Crozat's Seasons in about 1712–13; find the model for our drawing close to the head of a man in the Jousset collection, Paris (no. 510).
Charles Sterling. Great French Painting in the Hermitage. New York, , p. 231 n. 12.
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.
Jacques Mathey. "Le rôle décisif des dessins dans l'oeuvre de Watteau." Connaissance des arts no. 86 (April 1959), p. 43, ill.
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 and describes the quality of music as an emphatic tremolo.
Pierre Descargues. The Hermitage. London, 1961, p. 32, ill. opp. p. 32.
Jean Cailleux. "A Rediscovered Painting by Watteau: 'La Partie Quarrée' [in L'art du dix-huitième siècle, an advertisement supplement]." Burlington Magazine 104 (April 1962), p. iii, pl. 7 (detail), notes that the identical instrument is represented in Watteau's "La partie quarré" (Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco).
Allardyce Nicoll. The World of Harlequin: A Critical Study of the Commedia dell'Arte. Cambridge, 1963, p. 78, fig. 51.
A. P. de Mirimonde. "Les instruments de musique chez Antoine Watteau." Bulletin de la Société de l'Histoire de l'Art Français, année 1962, (1963), p. 49.
Jacob Bean. 100 European Drawings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, [1964?], unpaginated, under no. 56, dates the painting 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.
Pierre Schneider. The World of Watteau, 1684–1721. New York, 1967, p. 104, ill. in color (p. 105, and detail on dust jacket).
Anita Brookner. Watteau. London, 1967, p. 38, colorpl. 37, dates it about 1718–19.
Ettore Camesasca inThe Complete Paintings of Watteau. New York, 1968, pp. 119, 121–22, no. 193, ill., and colorpl. 56.
E. C. Montagni inL'opera completa di Watteau. Milan, 1968, pp. 118–19, no. 193, ill., and colorpl. 56.
José de Azeredo Perdigão. Calouste Gulbenkian, Collector. Lisbon, 1969, pp. 109–10, 113, 229
, describes Gulbenkian's 1930 negotiations 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 Mezzetin.
Introduction by Kenneth Clark. 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.
Calvin Tomkins. Merchants and Masterpieces: The Story of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1970, p. 225 [rev., enl. ed., 1989].
Edith A. Standen inMasterpieces of Painting in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Exh. cat., Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. New York, , p. 66, ill. (color).
Raymond Charmet. French Paintings in Russian Museums. New York, , p. 8, states that Galitzin, Catherine II's ambassador in Paris, acquired the Mezzetin for her in 1767.
Julius S. Held and Donald Posner. 17th and 18th Century Art: Baroque Painting, Sculpture, Architecture. Englewood Cliffs, N.J., , p. 303, colorpl. 45.
Jean Ferré. Watteau. Madrid, , vol. 1, in chronology, under 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.
Saint-Paulien in Jean Ferré. Watteau. Madrid, , vol. 1, pp. 151, 208, 215–16, 251, 264.
Yvonne Boerlin-Brodbeck. Antoine Watteau und das Theater. PhD diss., Universität Basel. 1973, pp. 170, 173–76, 231, 256 n. 49.
Yu. Zolotov. Antoine Watteau. Ed. M. A. Klimova. Leningrad [St. Petersburg], 1973, pp. 14, 25.
Ronald Paulson. Emblem and Expression: Meaning in English Art of the Eighteenth Century. Cambridge, Mass., 1975, pp. 95–97, fig. 49, observes that "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.
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.
John Hayes. Gainsborough: Paintings and Drawings. London, 1975, p. 201, pl. 3 (detail of landscape).
Denys Sutton inParis—New York: A Continuing Romance. Exh. cat., Wildenstein. New York, 1977, pp. 53–54, no. 54, fig. 31.
Oliver T. Banks. Watteau and the North: Studies in the Dutch and Flemish Baroque Influence on French Rococo Painting. PhD diss., Princeton University. New York, 1977, pp. 121, 183–84, figs. 35, 119 (overall and detail), relates it to Dutch paintings with musicians and notes that a single musician "often served as a vanitas allegory symbolizing the transience of pleasure".
Martin P. Eidelberg. Watteau's Drawings: Their Use and Significance. PhD diss., Princeton University. New York, 1977, pp. i–ii, 22–24, 28, fig. 8, discusses the drawing in the Ashmolean Museum.
Michel Sanvoisin in "Les musiciens de Watteau." Pèlerinage à Watteau. Exh. cat., Hôtel de la Monnaie. Paris, 1977, vol. 1, pp. 106–9, finds the guitar similar to the simpler instruments made by Groselet.
Emmanuel Bondeville in "Watteau et la musique." Pèlerinage à Watteau. Exh. cat., Hôtel de la Monnaie. Paris, 1977, vol. 1, p. 101.
A. P. de Mirimonde. L'iconographie musicale sous les rois Bourbons: La musique dans les arts plastiques (XVIIe–XVIIIe siècles). Vol. 2, Paris, 1977, pp. 34–35.
Robert C. Williams. Russian Art and American Money, 1900–1940. Cambridge, Mass., 1980, pp. 149, 160–61, 180, 182.
Howard Hibbard. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1980, pp. 356, 367, fig. 664 (color).
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 person seems to have posed repeatedly for Watteau 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), considers it likely to be a portrait of someone close to the artist.
Pierre Rosenberg et al. inWatteau, 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 engraving of Watteau and Jullienne (fig. 1), and suggests that her presence may indicate that Mezzetin 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 this picture.
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).
Margaret Morgan Grasselli inWatteau, 1684–1721. Exh. cat., National Gallery of Art. Washington, 1984, p. 188, calls the MMA drawing (cat. no. 110) a preparatory study made when the painting was already underway, and notes that the slight indications of the beret show that Watteau had Mezzetin already in mind; finds Parker and Mathey's identification of the model unconvincing.
Helmut Börsch-Supan. Watteau, 1684–1721: Führer zur Ausstellung im Schloß Charlottenburg. Exh. cat., Schloss Charlottenburg. [Berlin], 1985, pp. 80–81, no. 119, ill., suggests that the background of the picture may have been finished after Watteau's death.
Denys Sutton. "Antoine Watteau—Enigmatic Ironist." Apollo 121 (March 1985), p. 156, ill. on cover (color).
Youri Zolotov. Antoine Watteau: Gemälde und Zeichnungen in sowjetischen Museen. Düsseldorf, 1986, pp. 10, 13, ill.
Jacob Bean with the assistance of Lawrence Turcic. 15th–18th Century French Drawings in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1986, p. 297.
Thierry Lefrançois. "L'influence d'Antoine Watteau sur l'oeuvre de Charles Coypel." Antoine Watteau (1684–1721): Le peintre, son temps et sa légende. Ed. François Moureau and Margaret Morgan Grasselli. 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. Ed. François Moureau and Margaret Morgan Grasselli. Paris, 1987, p. 147, pl. 63.
Martin Eidelberg. "Watteau in the Atelier of Gillot." Antoine Watteau (1684–1721): Le peintre, son temps et sa légende. Ed. François Moureau and Margaret Morgan Grasselli. 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".
Yvonne Boerlin-Brodbeck. "La figure assise dans un paysage." Antoine Watteau (1684–1721): Le peintre, son temps et sa légende. Ed. François Moureau and Margaret Morgan Grasselli. 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.
Florence Gétreau. "Watteau et la musique: Réalité et interprétations." Antoine Watteau (1684–1721): Le peintre, son temps et sa légende. Ed. François Moureau and Margaret Morgan Grasselli. Paris, 1987, p. 241, pl. 63, fig. 18 (detail).
Kimerly Rorschach inClaude to Corot: The Development of Landscape Painting in France. Exh. cat., Colnaghi. New York, 1990, pp. 111–12, fig. 2, remarks that the statue, "in a fashion that approximates contemporary dress," must allude to a contemporary person.
François Moureau. De Gherardi à Watteau: Présence d'Arlequin sous Louis XIV. Paris, 1992, pp. 95, 123.
Etienne 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. 134, 152–53.
Katharine Baetjer. European Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art by Artists Born Before 1865: A Summary Catalogue. New York, 1995, p. 368, ill.
Pierre Rosenberg and Louis-Antoine Prat. Antoine Watteau, 1684–1721: Catalogue raisonné des dessins. Milan, 1996, vol. 2, p. 1048, date the drawing about 1718, but are not convinced that it is a study specifically for our picture.
Alan Wintermute. Watteau and His World: French Drawing from 1700 to 1750. Exh. cat., Frick Art Museum. London, 1999, p. 170, fig. 91.
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, 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).
Alan Wintermute inThe Age of Watteau, Chardin, and Fragonard: Masterpieces of French Genre Painting. Ed. Colin B. Bailey. Exh. cat., National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa. New Haven, 2003, pp. 140–41, 357, no. 10, ill. (color), calls "this portrait of Love's martyr . . . an unsurpassed image of romantic aspiration and torment".
Katja Schmitz-von Ledebur inGoya: Prophet der Moderne. Ed. Peter-Klaus Schuster et al. 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 related to the picture and that both allude to Jacob Cats's "Quid Non Sentit Amor," an emblem published in 1627.
Joseph Baillio et al. The Arts of France from François Ier to Napoléon Ier. Exh. cat., Wildenstein & Co., Inc. New York, , pp. 53, 72, no. 24, ill.
Julie Anne Plax. "Belonging to the In Crowd: Watteau and the Bonds of Art and Friendship." French Genre Painting in the Eighteenth Century. Ed. Philip Conisbee. Washington, 2007, pp. 53–54, 64–65, fig. 9.
Colin B. Bailey inFrench Art of the Eighteenth Century at The Huntington. Ed. Shelley M. Bennett and Carolyn Sargentson. [San Marino, Calif.], 2008, p. 342, fig. 130.
Katharine Baetjer inWatteau, Music, and Theater. Ed. Katharine Baetjer. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2009, pp. 44–47, no. 12, ill. (color) and color detail on dust jacket, states that initial underdrawing can be observed and that a "shadow" marks the area that was not masked by a frame insert.
Perrin Stein inWatteau, Music, and Theater. Ed. Katharine Baetjer. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2009, pp. 82, 84.
Georgia J. Cowart inWatteau, Music, and Theater. Ed. Katharine Baetjer. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2009, p. 13.
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 in manuscript showing a watercolor of the "Cabinet avant la Gallerie Côté opposée à la Porte d'Entrée"; the painting appears as a horizontal oval in a rectangular frame and is described as "Mezetin jouant de la Guitare par . . . Wateau . . . 23o . . . sur . . . 17o de ht. [45.9 x 62.1 cm].
Jennifer Tonkovich in Christoph Martin Vogtherr and Jennifer Tonkovich. Jean de Jullienne: Collector & Connoisseur. Exh. cat., Wallace Collection. London, 2011, p. 143, ill. p. 68 (color), illustrates plate 29 from the 1756 Jullienne catalogue showing this work at upper left; quotes Pierre Jean Mariette's annotations in his copy of the 1767 catalogue: "Ce n'est pas dans ce tableau que Wateau [sic] brille. Il y a trop de maniere".
Isabelle Tillerot. "Engraving Watteau in the Eighteenth Century: Order and Display in the 'Recueil Jullienne'." Getty Research Journal no. 3 (2011), p. 49 n. 17.
François Moureau. Le goût italien dans la France rocaille: théâtre, musique, peinture (v. 1680–1750). Paris, 2011, p. 101.
Rochelle Ziskin. Sheltering Art: Collecting and Social Identity in Early Eighteenth-Century Paris. University Park, Pa., 2012, pp. 200, 317 n. 123.
Sophie Raux and Florence Gétreau inAntoine Watteau (1684–1721): La leçon de musique. Ed. Florence Raymond. Exh. cat., Palais des Beaux-Arts de Bruxelles. Brussels, 2013, p. 122, under no. 47.
Corinne Le Bitouzé inAntoine Watteau (1684–1721): La leçon de musique. Ed. Florence Raymond. Exh. cat., Palais des Beaux-Arts de Bruxelles. Brussels, 2013, p. 204, fig. 40 (color), under no. 122.
Christoph Martin Vogtherr inAntoine Watteau (1684–1721): La leçon de musique. Ed. Florence Raymond. Exh. cat., Palais des Beaux-Arts de Bruxelles. Brussels, 2013, p. 205, under no. 123.
Michel Delon, ed. The Libertine: The Art of Love in Eighteenth-Century France. New York, 2013, ill. p. 146 (color).
Aaron Wile. "Watteau, Reverie, and Selfhood." Art Bulletin 96 (September 2014), p. 330, fig. 15 (color).
Kathryn Calley Galitz. The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Masterpiece Paintings. New York, 2016, pp. 283, 297, no. 275, ill. pp. 260, 297 (color).
Judy Sund. "Why So Sad? Watteau's Pierrots." Art Bulletin 98 (September 2016), p. 326, fig. 12 (color).
Yuriko Jackall inAmerica Collects Eighteenth-Century French Painting. Exh. cat., National Gallery of Art. Washington, 2017, p. 297.
Jack Hinton inAmerica Collects Eighteenth-Century French Painting. Exh. cat., National Gallery of Art. Washington, 2017, p. 61, fig. 15 (color).
Martin Gammon. Deaccessioning and Its Discontents: A Critical History. Cambridge, Mass., 2018, p. 286.
Sergey Androsov. Western European Painting of the Fourteenth–Early Twentieth Centuries in the Hermitage Collection. St. Petersburg, 2018, p. 26.
Neil Jeffares. Minutiae at the Met. March 29, 2019, unpaginated [https://neiljeffares.wordpress.com/2019/03/29/minutiae-at-the-met/].
Neil Jeffares. "Foreign Legion." Apollo 189 (April 2019), p. 103, fig. 1 (color).
Katharine Baetjer. French Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art from the Early Eighteenth Century through the Revolution. New York, 2019, pp. 62–66, 101, no. 10, ill. pp. 2, 63 (color, overall and detail).
Colin B. Bailey. "Review of Baetjer 2019." Burlington Magazine 163 (May 2021), p. 472, identifies the statue as likely representing a classical muse rather than a woman in modern dress, contrary to Baetjer 2019, and that Watteau was possibly inspired by the Antique marbles.
Katharine Baetjer inEuropean Masterpieces from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Exh. cat., Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art. South Brisbane, 2021, pp. 165, 233, ill. p. 164 (color).
Chris Saines inEuropean Masterpieces from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Exh. cat., Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art. South Brisbane, 2021, p. 45, ill. (color detail).
Jean Antoine Watteau's Mezzetin is among the Museum's most evocative works. Katharine Baetjer, curator in the Department of European Paintings, spoke with Associate Email Marketing Manager Jennette Mullaney about this small, striking painting.
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