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Exhibitions/ Watteau, Music, and Theater

Watteau, Music, and Theater

September 22–November 29, 2009

Exhibition Overview

The exhibition, in honor of Director Emeritus Philippe de Montebello, explores the place of music and theater in the work of the great early eighteenth-century French painter and draftsman Jean-Antoine Watteau (1684–1721). The works compare the imagery of power associated with the court of the Sun King, Louis XIV, with a more optimistic and mildly subversive imagery of pleasure developed in contemporary opera-ballet and theater. It shows that the painter’s utopian vision was influenced directly by these sister arts and sheds light on the subjects of a number of Watteau’s images. In addition to material drawn from various departments of the Museum, including musical instruments, porcelains, and prints, there are a number of major loans of paintings and drawings by Watteau and his contemporaries from other collections in the United States and Europe.

Featured Media


A musical demonstration by Robert Mealy and Friends


The exhibition is made possible by The Florence Gould Foundation.

It is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.

The catalogue is made possible by the Drue E. Heinz Fund.