Watteau and His Circle
This 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 and offers great possibilities.
The scope of this project is narrow in focus and, unlike popular books with ravishing color plates and little content, this website is meant for very few. 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.
The first two studies on this website focus on issues concerning paintings and drawings that were once in the collection of Jean de Jullienne, Watteau’s great friend and patron. The third considers a painting and a drawing, the one formerly attributed to Philippe Mercier and the other to Watteau, and which we would attribute to an artist whom we have christened the Sieste Master. The fourth essay focuses on Nicolas Vleughels and his circle of friends, many of whom were also associated with Watteau; new documents help to establish the early part of Vleughel's career.
The most recent essay that has been posted continues a series of studies devoted to Bonaventure de Bar (1700-1729). It catalogues over one hundred paintings that have wrongly been attributed to this artist. More than half of them are copies after compositions by Watteau, Lancret, and Pater, but none prove to actually be by de Bar. Other wrongly attributed works should be attributed to Quillard, Angellis, Ollivier, and other Watteau satellites, and some have to be left in the limbo of anonymity. A subsequent installment will focus on drawings that have been associated with de Bar's name.