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    Antoine Watteau

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    Antoine Watteau

    Childhood

    Antoine Watteau was born in Valenciennes, a city in Northeast France known to be a part of Flanders 1678. His father was a violent man that affected Watteau. From an early age, Watteau showed interest in drawing. 

    His drawings were believed to be of a traveling salesman. Watteau's first teacher was the city's best-known painter, Jacques Albert. However, Albert's work remained rooted, and his early work has no trace.

    Early work

    In 1702 Watteau started his real training and shifted to Paris. Those days, France was into the war of Spanish succession. By 1701, the greatest artists of that generation were dead, and the only remaining genre was a portrait, which was not Watteau's forte. He was not formally educated or socially connected but was highly observant, curious, and intelligent. He loved music, ballet, and opera and was also a Catholic reader and enthusiastic about learning new stuff. He didn't want to return to Valenciennes. He found a studio in Point Notre-Dame, and there, he started a painting business to support himself. An old master from Edme-Francois inspired Watteau greatly.

    In 1704 Watteau started his training with Claude Gillot, who played a huge role in his development. Claude was a brilliant draughtsman than a painter; his designs and subjects inspired Watteau. After spending four years with Claude, Watteau learned many techniques and skills of decorative panel painting. He was very popular with his acrobatic sense of line, witty motifs, and delicate use of color, but soon Watteau surpassed him, and they parted ways in 1708. After that, Watteau entered the studio of the king's leading decorators, Claude Audran III. Audran opened many Opportunities for Watteau. Audran helped Watteau get access to study many works, and it helped Watteau improve his creativity.

    Mature period

    Watteau developed quickly and learned to work in a short time. He developed an intuitive sense of motif and line. Watteau left Audran's studio in 1709, and it is not clear how long Watteau produced decorative paintings after that. In 1725 Watteau won the second prize in the Prix De Rome competition. But like all the ambitious artists, Watteau also wanted to study in Italy, but he was disappointed at missing out on the first prize, so he returned home. In 1712 Watteau returned to the Academy, and in 1717 he became a full academician with his painting "The pilgrimage to the island of Cythera." He was committed to a new genre which the Academie started especially for him. Watteau was not a popular artist, but he inspired many artists at that time. In 15 years, he was very successful as an artist.

    Death

    In 1729 Watteau got seriously ill with tuberculosis. Watteau never had a strong health situation that became worse for him. The reason behind the infection was never clear. Some theory suggests that he got infected in London when he painted two pictures with Richard Mead, a collector and a physician. And other theories suggest that he traveled to London only to seek treatment from Mead. In 1720 he returned to Paris and lived there for three months with Gersaint, the art dealer from his early career. He hoped to recover enough so that he can return to Valenciennes. In 1721 Watteau stayed in a village east of Paris. There he continued to paint, and he passed away in that same year. After Watteau died in 1721, his friend published volumes of prints of his work.

     

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