Black lead, red chalk and touches of white chalk
Sir J.C. Robinson (L.1433),
his sale, London, Christie's, 12-14 May 1902, lot 428 (£20 to Mathey);
sale, Paris, Hôtel Drouot, 27 January 1909, lot 154;
sale, Paris, 10 June 1911 (according to Parker-Mathey);
private collection, France;
sale, London, Christie's, 6 July 1999, lot 168
K.T. Parker and J. Mathey, Antoine Watteau, catalogue complet de son oeuvre dessiné, Paris 1957, vol. lI, no. 572;
P. Rosenberg and M. Morgan Grasselli, Watteau, 1684-1721, exhib. cat., Washington, National Gallery of Art, et al., 1984-85, pp. 376-8, fig. 7;
M. Morgan Grasselli, The Drawings of Antoine Watteau, stylistic development and problems of chronology, PhD. disseration, Harvard University, 1987 (published by University Microfilms, Ann Arbor, 1988), vol. 2, pp. 361, 521, no. 235;
P. Rosenberg and L.-A. Prat, Antoine Watteau (1684-1721), Catalogue raisonné des dessins, Milan 1996, vol. II, no. 491
Watteau made this study for a figure in his painting known as Les Bergers, now in the collection at Schloss Charlottenburg, Berlin (fig. 1). The woman leans on a branch as she listens to a man playing a bagpipe. He has been variously, but not definitely, identified as the Abbé Haranger, a close friend of Watteau, or as the actor Pierre La Thorillière.
Rosenberg and Prat date this drawing to 1716-17, whereas Margaret Morgan Grasselli suggests 1717-18, partly on the basis of the costume, but more significantly because of the use of graphite with the chalks, a technique which she believes Watteau adopted around 1717.1 In the Watteau exhibition catalogue, Les Bergers is dated circa 1717-19. The catalogue note discusses the erotic allusions in the composition, but also, in comparing it with a similar, earlier painting now at Chantilly, remarks that in this work Watteau 'has found his own very personal mode of expression...'.2 Eight drawings can be related to Les Bergers, studies for almost all the principal figures. It has been noted that this woman, with her generous physical proportions, reflects Watteau's study of Rubens, in particular his Kermesses.
1. Grasselli, loc. cit.
2. Rosenberg and Grasselli, op. cit., p. 378
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