2007-2008 2006-2007 2005-2006 2004-2005 2003-2004 2002-2003 2001-2002 2000-2001 1999-2000 1998-1999 1997-1998
1996-1997 1995-1996 1994-1995 1993-1994 1992-1993 1991-1992 1990-1991 1989-1990 1988-1989 1987-1988 1986-1987
< Thumbnails < Last | Next >

Fête Galante in a Park

Pierre-Antoine Quillard
Fête Galante in a Park, c.1725
Red chalk on ivory laid paper
17.9 x 28 cm
Purchased 1999

This drawing by Pierre-Antoine Quillard, which only recently resurfaced on the art market, is perhaps the single most significant example of the work of this faithful and gifted, though mysterious, follower of Watteau. The son of a cabinet-maker, Quillard found his greatest success at the Portuguese court, after failing in his efforts to train as a history painter in a highly competitive Paris after the turn of the eighteenth century. His precise relationship with Watteau remains uncertain, but he appears to have had access to drawings from the early period of the older master's career, which would indicate acceptance into the privacy of his studio at some point. The confident and spirited stylistic qualities of this drawing suggest that it is a relatively mature work. In keeping with its elegant subject matter and attenuated figures, the handling of the drawing is notably refined, with resilient lines and a crisp, regular hatching.

There is no evidence that the drawing, which has a markedly horizontal format, was made for a painting. It may have been produced as an independent work of art, given the high degree of finish. Nearly the entire surface of the drawing is fully treated, with the exception of a few lightly indicated alterations in the right half of the sheet. The gesture of the seated male figure with his left hand over his heart (and not the right hand, as one might expect for this act of persuasion) could perhaps indicate that the drawing was intended to be reversed in preparation for a print.

Quillard's drawing represents three different couples in contemporary costume who stroll and cavort in a park-like setting. The narrative subject of the fête galante treated here had been developed by Watteau in the previous decade in paintings such as The Embarkation to Cythera (Louvre, Paris), though Quillard's sentiment is legs melancholy and legs tense with expectation. Furthermore, by placing his characters in modern dress and in a plausible Parisian location, rather than in a mythical setting, the younger artist has altered the character of Watteau's genre.

The drawing takes its place in the collection with other splendid sheets of the French eighteenth century, such as those by Watteau, Lancret, Greuze, and Boucher, but it is the first example of real quality representing the fête galante, which was so critical to the development of the Rococo style.