The Italian Comedians

Object Details

Title:

The Italian Comedians

Artist/Maker:

Jean-Antoine Watteau (French, 1684 - 1721)

Culture:

French

Place:

France (Place created)

Date:

about 1720

Medium:

Oil on canvas

Dimensions:

128.9 x 93.3 cm (50 3/4 x 36 3/4 in.)

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Five comedians have just finished their performance in a verdant park on the outskirts of Paris and look expectantly at their audience. Pierrot, the clown in a baggy white suit, is already holding his hat in his hand, hoping that a few coins might be thrown into it.

Flanking Pierrot are four other performers dressed as characters from the Italian commedia dell'arte, which enjoyed great popularity in 18th-century Paris. Brighella wears a splendid greenish-gold suit and shoulder cape trimmed with black stripes. Mezzetin strums a few chords on his guitar, while Harlequin in a black mask with its horsehair eyebrows and moustache peers over his shoulder. A mock Spanish costume of black velvet with a white ruff identifies the figure on the far right as Scaramouche.

The actors penetrate our world with an intense humanity and vivid reality, far removed from the theatrical artifice and caprice of the stage they have just left.

Provenance
by 1726

Possibly Salomon Gautier (London, England) [possibly sold, Cooper's, Green Door in Little Piazza, Covent Garden, London, January 18-30, 1726, lot 37, as "Italian Comedians" by Watteau]

by 1774

Comte Jean Du Barry, 1722 - 1792 (rue de Richelieu, Paris, France) [sold, Remy & Le Brun, Paris, November 21, 1774, lot 84, as by Watteau.]

by 1808

Hubert Robert, French, 1733 - 1808 (Palais du Louvre, Paris, France; later, 19, rue Neuve du Luxembourg, Paris, France) [sold, Hubert Robert sale, Paris, April 5-12, 1809, lot 26, as by Watteau, to Alexandre-Joseph Paillet]

1809-1814

Alexandre-Joseph Paillet, 1743 - 1814 (Paris, France)

by 1878

Mme. Joly de Ba...ville [Banville?] (Paris, France) [sold, Mme. Joly de Ba...ville [Banville?] sale, rue du Luxembourg, Paris, June 7, 1878]

by 1890

Gustave Rothan, 1822 - 1890 (8, place Saint-Georges, Paris, France) [sold, Galerie Georges Petit (M. Chevalier), Paris, May 29-31, 1890, lot 183, as by Jean-Baptiste Pater, to "Guiraud pour M. Porgès"]

1890-1921

Jules Porgès, 1839 - 1921 (14-18, avenue Montaigne, Paris, France), and by inheritance to his wife, Rose-Anne Porgès, née Wodianer (1854-1937).

by 1976

Private Collection [unsold, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, salle no. 2, June 16, 1976, no lot number, as by Jean-Baptiste Pater; sold, Palais Galliera (M. Ader), Paris, November 29, 1976, lot C, as by Philippe Mercier, to Commandant Paul-Louis Weiller]

1976-1993

Paul-Louis Weiller, 1893 - 1993 (Paris, France, and Geneva, Switzerland)

1993-2011

Heirs of Paul-Louis Weiller, 1893 - 1993 [sold, Gros & Delettrez, Paris, April 5, 2011, lot 23, as "circle of Watteau", revised in saleroom notice to "Watteau and studio", to Hazlitt, Gooden & Fox]

2011-2012

Hazlitt, Gooden & Fox Ltd. (London, England), sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 2012.

Bibliography

Dacier, Emile, ed. Catalogues de ventes et livrets de Salons illustrés par Gabriel de Saint-Aubin. 11 vols. (Paris: Société de reproduction des dessins de maîtres, 1909-1921) vol. 3 (1910), pp. 25-26n2, no. 84.

Alfassa, Paul. "L'exposition d'art français du XVIIIe siècle à Berlin." La Revue de l'art ancien et moderne 27 (January-June 1910) p. 174.

Meier-Graefe, Julius: "Correspondance d'Allemagne. L'exposition d'art français du XVIIIe siècle à Berlin." Gazette des Beaux-Arts 52 (1910) p. 266.

Ausstellung von Werken französischer Kunst des XVIII. Jahrhunderts, exh. cat. (Berlin: Königliche Akademie der Künste, 1910) p. 46, no. 66, ill.

Zimmermann, Ernst Heinrich. Watteau: Des Meisters Werke in 182 Abbildungen (Stuttgart: Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, 1912) pp. 157, 192, ill.

Ingersoll-Smouse, Florence. Pater (Paris: Les Beaux-Arts, 1928) p. 44, no. 83 bis, fig. 179.

Le Théâtre à Paris (XVIIe-XVIIIe siècles), exh. cat. (Paris: Musée Carnavalet, 1929) p. 21, no. 78, ill.

Macchia, Giovanni, and E. C. Montagni. L'opera completa di Watteau (Milan: Rizzoli. 1968) p. 123, no. 215, fig. 215.

Eidelberg, Martin. "Watteau's 'La Boudeuse'." The Burlington Magazine, 111 (May 1969) p. 277.

Rosenberg, Pierre, and Ettore Camesasca. Tout l'oeuvre peint de Watteau (Paris: Flammarion, 1970) p. 123, no. 215, fig. 215.

Camesasca, Ettore, and John Sunderland. The Complete Paintings of Watteau (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1971) p. 127, no. 215, fig. 215.

Eidelberg, Martin. "Watteau Paintings in England in the Early Eighteenth Century." The Burlington Magazine, 117 (September 1975) p. 577.

Rosenberg, Pierre, and Ettore Camesasca. Tout l'oeuvre peint de Watteau (Paris: Flammarion, 1982) p. 123, no. 215, fig. 215.

Rosenberg, Pierre, and Louis-Antoine Prat. Antoine Watteau 1684-1721: Catalogue raisonné des dessins. 3 vols. (Paris, 1996) vol. II, p. 902, fig. 535d.

Fredericksen, Burton B., and Benjamin Peronnet, eds. Répertoire des tableaux vendus en France au XIXe siècle (Los Angeles: The Provenance Index of the Getty Information Institute, 1998) vol. 1, pt. 2, p. 1224.

Alliod, Sylvain. "Paul-Louis Weiller, l'oeil absolu." Gazette de l'Hôtel Drouot (15 April 2011, no. 15) pp. 22-26, ill.