Jean-Antoine Watteau

French (1684 - 1721)
Jean-Antoine Watteau Fêtes Vénitiennes 1718 - 1719


Born 1684
Died 1721
Nationality French

Watteau, celebrated for his colourful and delicately sophisticated work, introduced a new type of subject into eighteenth century French painting: the fêtes galantes. These were scenes in which exquisitely dressed young people idle away time in dreamy, romantic, pastoral settings. They appear joyful but are often tinged with melancholy. Watteau was born in Valenciennes, formerly in Flanders but by then part of France. He moved to Paris to pursue his artistic education and initially worked as a scenery painter. Inspired by Rubens and Venetian painters his outstanding skills were soon recognised and he was admitted to the French Academy in 1712.

Glossary terms

  • Term used to denote painters from the Renaissance until 1800, or their works.

  • Rococo refers to a style of art which emerged in early eighteenth century France under the reign of Louis XV. It is characterised by elaborate ornamentation, which includes scrolls, flora and animal forms. As a style it was not just associated with painting and sculpture, but also interior design, architecture, furniture, fabric and tableware.