332
332
Jean Antoine Watteau
STUDY OF THE HEAD OF A YOUNG MAN
Estimate
35,00045,000
JUMP TO LOT
332
Jean Antoine Watteau
STUDY OF THE HEAD OF A YOUNG MAN
Estimate
35,00045,000
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Old Master & British Works on Paper

|
London

Jean Antoine Watteau
VALENCIENNES 1684 - 1721 NOGENT-SUR-MARNE
STUDY OF THE HEAD OF A YOUNG MAN
Two shades of red chalk, within brown ink framing lines
69 by 61 mm
Read Condition Report Read Condition Report

Provenance

Pierre Defer (1798-1870), Paris (L.739), 
by inheritance to his son-in-law Henri Dumesnil (1823-1898), 
his sale, Paris, Hotel Drouot, 10-12 May 1900, lot 218 (800 francs, to Danlos);
private collection, England

Literature

M. Morgan Grasselli, 'Eighteen Drawings by Antoine Watteau: A Chronological Study', Master Drawings, vol. 31, no. 2, 1993, pp. 119-20, no. 13, fig. 22;
P. Rosenberg and L-A Prat, Antoine Watteau 1684-1721 Catalogue raisonné des dessins, vol. II, pp. 1034-5, no. 607, reproduced and p. 1080, under no. 633

Catalogue Note

This delightful head study of a young man, drawn in two shades of red chalk, is not only a quintessential example of Watteau’s idiosyncratic graphic style, but also wonderfully indicative of the emotive qualities with which he managed, often with extraordinary economy of media, to imbue his drawings. As noted by Margaret Morgan Grasselli (see Literature) both the twist of the head and the wistful expression of the man can be closely compared to figures in several of Watteau’s later paintings, most notably the bagpiper in Fêtes Vénitiennes, the gentleman seated on the ground at the centre of Rendez-vous de chasse and the actor standing at the centre of Les comédiens français, all of which date to circa 1718-20.1

Rosenberg and Prat acknowledge Grasselli’s dating of the present work to 1717-19 proposing their own, fractionally later dating of 1718-19, while reaffirming her initial observation that the head is indeed extremely close to that of the bagpiper in Fêtes Vénitiennes, though clearly turned fractionally less to the left than the corresponding painted figure.2 What is without doubt, however, is that this pathos laden work, small in scale but packed full of the artist’s bravura, deftly encapsulates Watteau’s extraordinary powers as a draughtsman.

For another highly comparable drawing by the artist, depicting the Head of a young woman, also from the Defer-Dumesnil collection and similarly dating to circa 1717-1719, see lot 342.

1. Fêtes Vénitiennes, Edinburgh, National Gallery of Scotland, inv. no. NG 439; Rendez-vous de chasse, London, The Wallace Collection, inv. no. P416; Les comédiens français, New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, inv. no. 49.7.54
2. Rosenberg and Prat, op. cit., p. 1034, no. 607

Old Master & British Works on Paper

|
London