Watteau and His Circle

Boucher Portrait of WatteauThis website is intended to be a vehicle for the dissemination of my research on Antoine Watteau and his contemporaries. 

Over the last forty years I have published studies in a wide range of journals, far too many of which have since disappeared. The freedom of the Internet offers a modern alternative. Admittedly, there is a serious downside. Unlike the printed page, which has at least a promise of security, the Internet is ethereal and threateningly transient.  Nonetheless, it is expedient, bypassing the years of delay that come with regular publishing, and it can be updated when still newer material appears. The flexibility of such a system offers great possibilities.

The scope of this project is specific and narrowly focused. Unlike popular books with ravishing color plates and little content, this website is meant for relatively few but dedicated readers concerned with early eighteenth-century French art. I am reminded of an anecdote about the friend of a colleague who responded to a general archaeology exam question with an incredibly detailed answer about a minor type of Roman provincial pottery. The examiners were bowled over by this man’s extraordinary knowledge on such a minuscule topic, but then asked him why he had expended so much energy on a subject that only three or four people in the world knew anything about. His reply was "I realize that, but with them I have such interesting conversations." My hope is that these essays will find a readership, that they will encourage others’ research, and that they will lead to stimulating conversations on the art of Watteau and his circle.

Some of the first studies have focused on issues concerning Watteau’s patron Jean de Jullienne and his close friend Nicolas Vleughels. Others have focused on his followers Philip Mercier, Bonaventure de Bar, and otherwise anonymous artists whose exact identities are yet to be discovered.

Future essays will be devoted to a wide range of topics: the presence of assistants in Watteau’s shop, fêtes galantes by various unidentified masters in Watteau’s circle, and the exciting discoveries made in the recent cleaning of Watteau’s painting La Promenade sur les remparts.

Martin Eidelberg
New York