ANTOINE WATTEAU,Vintage Art Masterpieces,Vintage Prints for Sale The Embarkation for Cythera by ANTOINE WATTEAU {French School}

The Embarkation for Cythera by ANTOINE WATTEAU {French School}

The Embarkation for Cythera

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WATTEAU, the son of a Flemish artisan, wandered to Paris in his youth, passed
through ten poverty-stricken years and ten more of increasing prosperity,
marred by ill-health and melancholy, and died of consumption at the age of

Thrown between two civilizations, he contemplated the dying
majesty of the old with some regrets, and ushered in the new to the sound of
lutes and the murmuring of lovers.


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No other artist has rendered so truthfully
and enchantingly the old Parisian spirit: to him the world of the senses was
more than sufficient for his diseased body and afflicted soul. His art lingers on
one idea: men and women, not playing at the game of love, but whose whole
existence is dedicated to love.

They are dressed for the part; they exercise
restraint lest the passion burn out, and avoid everything gross and unculti­
vated, displaying their seductions with the greatest delicacy and charm.

Watteau’s technique is a frail instrument. He retained the ambers, blues,
and cherry tones of Rubens,

but in his drawing employed the light-and-shade
method of impressionism, training his eye to observe the fluttering effects of
light on faces and landscape.

He filled his notebooks with sketches and com­
posed his pictures from his stock of drawings. Natural forms he neglected to
study, his trees being banks of plumage in ideal settings for his courtly lovers
whom he scattered about like flowers strewn on the grass, and held together by
transparent curtains of golden tones.

When Watteau arrived in Paris, the song from a popular comedy was on
everybody’s lips. The burden of the tune, “Come to the Isle of Cythera,”
haunted the young artist, and slowly crystallized into a pictorial vision of
romantic love.

Three times he painted the Embarkauon ; at first tentatively,
but on his second trial, in 1717, influenced by a tall blonde-his model and
the central figure of the composition-he brought forth the magnificent version
now in the Louvre.

This picture contains all that he had to say: his assembled
couples, in a fantastic landscape overhung with a magical atmosphere of
tone-a landscape of autumnal tints, for it is filled with the melancholy of the
artist’s soul-prepare to sail away to the blessed isle, an immaterial region
sacred to Venus, where there is no death, where love-making is prolonged into

This was Watteau’s idea of heaven!


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