An image of Study of three male figures

Jean-Antoine Watteau

(France 1684 – 1721)

Study of three male figures

Not on display
Further information

Despite the dissolving prettiness which is their signature quality, the paintings of Jean-Antoine Watteau are built on solid reality. Life-drawing and nature study were the necessary and pleasurable preludes to his painterly activity. His graphic style reflected the naturalism of the Italian Bolognese school, mediated through the tidier protocols of French academic drafting technique. Watteau kept his innumerable drawings in large folios as an aid to composition. Two of the figures in this sheet relate to his canvas, 'Love at the Theatre Francais'. The reclining man serves for the pose of Bacchus in the painting, while the bagpiper reappears unchanged. Coveted by connoisseurs even during the artist's lifetime, Watteau's chalk drawings have never fallen from favour. They epitomise the grace and intelligence central to the best of eighteenth century art, at the same time seeming to possess analytical and formal attributes we now think of as modern.

Art Gallery Handbook, 1999.

red chalk on cream paper
19.7 x 15.5 cm sheet; 35.0 x 30.5 x 4.0 cm frame
Signature & date
Not signed. Not dated.
Gift of James Fairfax AC 1993
Accession number
Art Set
Add this work to your own Art Set.
Art Set
Add this work to your own Art Set.