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Watteau and Boucher

François Boucher’s earliest paintings are canvases from the 1720s on religious subjects similar to those of Jean Jouvenet. The direction of his particular genius was more deeply shaped, however, by the hundred-plus etchings he made in the same decade after decorative, secular, sensuous drawings by Antoine Watteau (1684-1721). Watteau initiated the Rococo period in French painting that Boucher expanded and sustained until his death in 1770.

Melville’s three engravings after Watteau and one engraving after Boucher are among the most alluring in his entire collection. They convey a latent eroticism in a sylvan landscape to which Melville was to give his own most memorable expression in “After the Pleasure Party” in Timoleon in 1891.

  • Works cited for Watteau and Boucher:
  • La Cascade (copy 2).” A Watteau Abecedario (revised April 2021).
  • The Cascade.” New York Metropolitan Museum of Art.
  • Catalogue of the Very Celebrated Collection of Works of Art, The Property of Samuel Rogers, Esq., Deceased. London: Christie and Mason, Monday, April 28, 1856, and Eighteen Following Days.
  • “The Collection of Samuel Rogers.” The Art-Union (London), 9 (1847): 8385.
  • “The Country Dance.” New York Metropolitan Museum of Art.
  • Goncourt, Edmond, and Jules de. French Eighteeenth-Century Painters. Tr. Robin Ironside. London: Phaidon, 1948; rpr. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1981.
  • Hall, S. C. Gems of European Art. London: G. Virtue, 1846.l.
  • Hazlitt, William. Criticisms on Art, and Sketches of the Picture Galleries of England. Edited by his son. 2 vol. London: J. Templeton, 1843, 1844.
  • Laing, Alastair. “Boucher, François.” Grove, 4:511-19.
  • Mantz, Paul. “La Collection La Caze au Musée du Louvre.” Gazette des Beaux-Arts, July 1870, 5-15.
  • Pequegnot, August. Ornements, Vases et Décorations d’après les Maîtres. 14 vol. Paris: Pierron, 1856-72.
  • Rosenberg, Pierre. “Les tableaux de Watteau.” In the catalogue Watteau: 1684-1721 (Washington: National Gallery of Art; Paris: Galeries nationales du Grand Palais; Berlin: Châteaux de Charlottenbourg, 1984-85).
  • --------, and Louis-Antoine Prat. Antoine Watteau, 1684-1721: Catalogue raisonné des dessins. 3 vol. Milan: Leonardo Arte, 1996.
  • Sunderland, John, and Ettore Camesasca. The Complete Paintings of Watteau. New York: Abrams, 1968.
  • Tillerot, Isabelle. “Engraving Watteau in the Eighteenth Century: Order and Display in the Recueil Jullienne.” Getty Research Journal 3 (2011): 33-52.
  • Vidal, Mary. Watteau’s Painted Conversations. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1992.
  • Whittingham, Selby. “Watteau’s L’Île Enchantée: From the French Régence to the English Regency.” Pantheon 42 (1984): 339-47.
  • Wine, Humphrey. “(Jean-) Antoine Watteau.” Grove, 32:913-20.
  • Wintermute, Alan. Watteau and his World: French Drawing from 1700 to 1750. London: Merrell Holberton,1999.