The French painter Antoine Watteau (1684–1721) is among the great masters of draughtsmanship. His sensitive studies in red, black and white chalk capture female and male models, observations of details and spontaneous ideas, and develop that world of cheerful companies and mutually attentive conviviality that would come to be called “fêtes galantes”.
From 19 October 2016 to 15 January 2017, the Städel Museum presented a comprehensive exhibition on one of the most outstanding draughtsmen in the history of French art—Antoine Watteau (1684–1721). The show in the Exhibition Gallery of the Department of Prints and Drawings brought together fifty drawings by Watteau, enhanced by six of his paintings and a small selection of drawings by contemporaries and successors. Organized in cooperation with Teylers Museum in Haarlem, Holland, the exhibition “Watteau. The Draughtsman” has been the first monographic presentation of the artist’s work in Germany for more than thirty years. It was moreover the first in this country devoted specifically to the phenomenon of Watteau in all his many facets as a draughtsman.
Drawings served him as a basis for his painterly work. He drew continually and habitually, and in the most varied situations. The Städel has in its holdings altogether seven works from different phases of his career—and thus one of the most prominent Watteau collections in Germany. The precious sheets from the two institutions formed the exhibition’s core, and were supplemented by loans of high quality from collections in Germany, Holland, France and other European countries. Following its presentation at the Städel, the exhibition was on view at Teylers Museum in Haarlem from 2 February to 14 May 2017.
Curators: Dr. Martin Sonnabend (Head of Prints and Drawings before 1750, Städel Museum), Dr. Michiel Plomp (Chief Conservator of the Art Collections, Teylers Museum)