Antoine Watteau (French, 1684–1721)
Etching; first state of three
sheet 8 7/8 x 13 7/16 in. (22.6 x 34.2 cm)
Purchase, Gift of Dr. Mortimer Sackler, Theresa Sackler and Family, and The Elisha Whittelsey Collection, The Elisha Whittelsey Fund, 2006 (2006.43)
Watteau, considered the greatest painter of the Rococo period, made only a small number of etchings, each of which supplied a professional printmaker with a design to be reworked in engraving. In this rare impression of the first state, we can appreciate the elegant, flickering lines of Watteau, before they were overworked with a burin by an engraver. The soldiers, on their way to join their regiment, evoke a sense of weariness as they trudge through a landscape, but at the same time, their poses and placement are imbued with a balletic grace.