Jean-Antoine Watteau

Two Studies of Mezzetino Standing

c. 1717
As his many paintings of actors reveal, Watteau found in the theatre of his time a rich resource of subject matter for his art. The two figures in this drawing are posed as Mezzetino, an arrogant and devious character from the "Commedia dell'arte", a comic ensemble of Italian origins known as "Comédie-Italienne" in France. In 1697 Louis XIV expelled the "Comédie-Italienne" from Paris when he heard they were to perform a play based on a banned pamphlet satirizing his pious wife Madame de Maintenon. Presumably Watteau made this drawing after the troupe was allowed back to the city in 1716, following the King's death the year before.
Title
Two Studies of Mezzetino Standing
Date
c. 1717
Medium
Drawing
Materials
red chalk on laid paper
Dimensions
17.7 x 18.9 cm
Nationality
French
Credit line
Purchased 1939
Accession number
4548