12 March—5 June 2011
In The Sackler Wing of Galleries, Burlington House
Please note: The RA will close early (1pm) on 2 June 2011.
The display contains over 80 works on paper produced by the French artist. The exhibition is organised chronologically and examines the development and mastery of his drawing methods. The drawings selected for the exhibition demonstrate the full range of Watteau’s subject matter; from fêtes galantes, (a genre Watteau invented which depicted social gatherings of elegant people in parkland settings) and theatre pieces to portraits and shop interiors.
Drawing lay at the heart of Watteau’s creative process; he prized his drawings and kept them in bound volumes which enabled him to refer to them when composing his paintings as they were an essential source of inspiration for figure poses. Throughout his career Watteau worked continually in red chalk; early works using this medium on display include The Shipwreck c. 1710 and Interior of a Draper’s Shop c. 1710-11. Although he achieved as broad a range of colour and tone as is possible through this medium, he is best known for his mastery of the trois crayons technique, the subtle manipulation and expert balancing of red, black and white. He made very little use of pen and ink and occasionally combined chalk with graphite, and also employed washes.
Watteau: The Drawings has been organised by the Royal Academy of Arts. The exhibition has been curated by Pierre Rosenberg, Académie Française, Président-Directeur of the Musée du Louvre, Louis-Antoine Prat, Chargé de mission, Département des Arts graphiques, Musée du Louvre and Katia Pisvin, Royal Academy of Arts, London.