Archive for the Postcards Category
Watteau was a delicate man whose health was fragile throughout his short life. In 1720, suffering from tuberculosis, he travelled to London to consult a fashionable doctor but finding that the unwholesome effects of the English climate outweighed any benefit of the treatment he returned to France. The last months of his life were spent near Nogent-sur-Marne in the home of his patron the Abbé Haranger, from whom we have the very touching and pathetic account of the artist on his deathbed, mute and delirious, painting imaginary figures in the air with an immaterial brush. He was 36 years old and had little reason to suspect the lasting renown his fragile oeuvre would claim nor the extraordinary affection it would inspire in the centuries to follow.
10 October 1684 – 18 July 1721
Watteau’s home town of Valenciennes boasts a very fitting and magnificent shrine to their greatest native son in this monumental fountain. The portrait bronze of Watteau was sculpted by his fellow Valenciennois Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux and the monument completed to his designs after his death in 1875 by sculptor Ernest Eugène Hiolle and architect Emile Dussart. The monument was inaugurated on the 12th of October 1884, to honour the bicentennial of Watteau’s birth.
Henri Désiré Gauquié (1856-1943), Monument à Jean-Antoine Watteau, 1896
Jardin du Luxembourg, Paris
With the posting of the last of Paul Verlaine’s Fêtes galantes two days ago my tribute to Jean-Antoine Watteau is nearing its end. It has been a very rewarding journey for me and it seems to have enjoyed some popularity with my very exclusive readership as well. Watteau’s oeuvre and most particularly his drawings, which I have barely touched upon, is too extensive and too delightful to neglect indefinitely and I shall surely return to it in future, as I will to Verlaine’s exquisite verse.