Jean-Antoine Watteau (1684 – 1721) was a rebellious and groundbreaking painter and one of the most important European artists of the eighteenth century. His scenes of idyllic life set in lush, fantastic landscapes are often tinged with melancholy and contain shadowy traces of the human condition. Many of his best known paintings drew their subjects from music, theater, eros, and dance, and demonstrate his ability to reveal the lightness of beauty and psychological depth at once.
In his great book, Rococo to Revolution, author Michael Levey says this of Watteau:
The importance of Watteau was twofold. He created, unwittingly, the concept of the individualistic artist loyal to himself, and alone… More important than any concept of the artist was the art he created. He invented in effect a new category of picture, the fête galante, which claimed complete freedom of subject-matter for the painter and which at the same time, while dispensing with overt ‘story’, treated human nature as psychologically as the novel was to do.
…Watteau should have been the great neglected genius of his age; but to its credit he was a great applauded genius… He was its poet, and he gave it an image in which it would have liked to believe.
This painting was originally attributed to Francisco de Goya (1746–1828), but since about 1970 has been thought to be a pastiche by Eugenio Lucas Velázquez (1817–1870), one of Goya’s followers.
Books about Spanish Painting…
Caterina van Hemessen (1528 – 1587 or later) was a Flemish Renaissance painter known for her small portraits of women completed in the mid sixteenth century. She was the daughter of and apprentice to Jan Sanders van Hemessen (c. 1500 – c. 1566). Besides being the earliest known female Flemish painter, she is also credited with creating the first self-portrait of an artist sitting at the easel.
There are no known works by Caterina van Hemessen dated after her marriage in 1554, and some scholars believe this may have marked the end of her career as an artist.