Jean-Antoine Watteau, ‘Seated Woman Looking Down’, ca. 1720/1721, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
overall: 21 x 14.7 cm (8 1/4 x 5 13/16 in.)

Image rights: Courtesy National Gallery of Art, Washington

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About Jean-Antoine Watteau

Characterized by paintings that depict sumptuously dressed aristocrats in nature settings, Antoine Watteau’s distinct style forged the creation of an entirely new genre of paintings termed fête galante. These works are admired for the subtlety of expression in the characters’ faces and gestures, as well as the simultaneous inclusion of both contemporary dress and costume attire, complicating notions of time and place. Though Watteau is often associated with the cheerful subject matter and ornamental concerns of Rococo, it is the innovative combination of reality and artifice that makes Watteau’s work so remarkable.

French, 1684-1721, Valenciennes, France, based in Norgent-sur-Marne, France