Antoine Watteau

An Embarrasing Proposal

An Embarrasing Proposal
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Author: Antoine Watteau
Painting, Oil on canvas, 65x84.5 cm
Origin: France, 1715-1716

Watteau was the first 18th-century French artist to create something totally new in his work, something previously unknown, in despite of the rules and traditions of the academic school. An Embarrassing Proposal is a poetic tale of musicmaking, of a quiet conversation in the lap of nature, a sudden breaking off of the relationship, without any of the theatrical pathos and sublime passions that would have accompanied such a subject in the work of the artists of the Academie. The artist captures one unique moment in the relationship of his heroes, their slight, barely visible emotions, and conveys the tiniest nuances of feeling. The unusual vivacity and expressiveness of his characters owes much to the particular attention Watteau paid to drawings, in which he captured his observations of the changeability of emotions, of movements and the expressions of the human face. These drawings served as a unique notebook providing valuable material during the artist's work on the painting.

Source of entry: Collection of Count von Bruhl, Dresden, 1769
Exibition: French Art: 15th - 18th centuries

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