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L'Indifférent

Entered November 2022

Fig 1

Musée du Louvre, inv. MI 1122

Oil on panel

25.5 x 19 cm

 

ALTERNATIVE TITLES

Un Homme dans l’attitude d’un danseur

Un Homme qui danse

Un Jeune danseur

 

RELATED PRINTS

Fig 2

Gérard Scotin after Wateau, L’Indifférent, engraving, 1729.

 

L’Indifférent was engraved for Jean de Jullienne’s Oeuvre gravé by Gérard Scotin, whereas the pendant, La Finette, was engraved by Bernard Audran. The two prints were announced for sale in the July 1729 issue of the Mercure de France, 1603-04.

 

fig

Anonymous engraver after Watteau, L’Indifférent, engraving.

fig

Georg Gottfried Winckler after Scotin, L’Indifférent, engraving.

Anonymous German engraver after Scotin, L’Indifférent, engraving.

Pierre Rosenberg has signaled three additional engravings after Watteau’s L’Indifférent. Although he describes them as being after the painting in the Louvre, judging by their left-right orientation, two seem to be after the Scotin print.

 

PROVENANCE

Paris, collection of Jean-Baptiste Massé (1687-1767; painter). His ownership is indicated on Audran’s 1729 engraving: “Tiré du Cabinet de Mr Massé.” Neither this painting nor its pendant are listed in Massé’s 1765-67 will.

Bought by Charles Nicolas Cochin for Abel-François de Vandières, marquis de Marigny et Menars (1727-1781; brother of Madame de Pompadour). His sale, Paris, March 18- April 6, 1782, lot 143: “ANTOINE WATTEAU  Deux Sujets faisant pendants. Ils représentent une Dame assise touchant de la mandoline sur un fond de Paysage, & un autre Paysage au milieu duquel est un homme dans l’attitude d’un Danseur, portant sur l’épaule droite un manteau rouge doublé de bleu. B. 9 pouces sur 6 & demi de large.” According to an annotated copy of the sale catalogue in the Frick Art Reference Library, New York, the pair sold for 475 livres to Godefroy.

Paris, collection of Auguste Gabriel Godefroy de Villetaneuse (d. 1785; Inspector General of the Navy). His sale April 25, 1785 (postponed until November 15-19, 1785), lot 43: “Antoine Watteau . . . Deux Tableaux faisant pendans; l’un représente une dame assise dans un jardin pinçant de la Mandoline; l’autre offre un homme qui danse. il est vêtu d’un manteau rouge doublé de bleu, attaché sur son épaule droite. Ces deux jolis tableaux viennent de M. de Ménard, no. 143, & ont été vendus 475 livres. Hauteur 9 pouces, largeur 6 pouces 6 lignes. B.” According to an annotated copy of the sale catalogue in the Frick Art Reference Library, New York, the pair sold for 490 livres.

Paris, with Jean-Baptiste Pierre Lebrun (1748-1813: painter and art dealer). His sale, Paris, September 29-October 7, 1806, lot 130: “PAR LE MÊME [ANTOINE WATTEAU.] . . . Deux Tableaux, l’un représente une jeune Femme assise, jouant de la guitare; l’autre un jeune Danseur. Ces deux Tableaux, d’une couleur fine & brillante, nous rappellent la belle manière du Titien. Aussi les productions de ce maître font elle l’admiration de tout les yeux délicats & juges du coloris. Ils ont orné les cabinets de MM de Jullienne & Godefroy de Villetaneuse, & se trouvent gravés par B. Audran & G. Scotin sous les titres de la Finette & de l’Indifférent.—Hauteur 9 pouces, largeur 7 pouces. B.” According to  annotated copies of the sale catalogue, the pair sold for 75 francs to Pierre Joseph Renoult. 

Paris, M. collection. His sale, Paris, May 4 ff., 1808, lot 230: “PAR LE MÊME [ANTOINE WATTEAU]. . . . Deux Tableaux, l’un représente une jeune Femme assise, jouant de la guitare; l’autre un jeune Danseur. Ces deux Tableaux, d’une couleur fine & brillante, nous rappellent la belle manière du Titien. Aussi les productions de ce maître font elles l’admiration de tout les yeux délicats & juges du coloris. Ils ont orné les cabinets de MM. de Jullienne & Godefroy de Villetaneuse, & se trouvent gravés par B. Audran & G. Scotin sous les titres de la Finette & de l’Indifférent.—Hauteur 9 pouces, largeur 7 pouces. B.”

Possibly Paris, collection of M. Duff. His sale, Paris, May 10-13, 1837, lot 118: “Du même [WATTEAU (Antoine)]. Intérieure de bosquet. Danseur s’exerçant.” (See below, Copy 1.)

Paris, collection of Dr. Louis La Caze; (1798-1869; physician); in his collection by 1848. Donated to the Musée du Louvre in 1869.

 

EXHIBITIONS

Paris, Association des artistes, Troisième exposition (1848), cat. 139 (as by Watteau, L’Indifférent, lent by M. Lacaze).

Paris, Galerie Martinet, Collections d’amateurs (1860), cat. 270 (as by Watteau, L’Indifférent, collection of M. Lacaze).

London, Royal Academy, French Art 1200-1900 (1932), cat. 189 (as by Watteau, L’Indifférent, Musée du Louvre).

Paris, Petit palais, Chefs d’oeuvre de la peinture française du Louvre (1946), cat. 296 (as by Watteau, L’Indifférent).

Paris, Hôtel de la monnaie, Pèlerinage à Watteau (1977), 2: cat. 36.

Washington, Paris, Berlin, Watteau 1684-1721 (1984), cat. 59.

Faroult and Eloy, La Collection La Caze (2007), 74, 114.

 

SELECT BIBLIOGRAPHY

Hédouin, “Watteau” (1845), cat. 41.

Clément de Ris, “Troisième exposition” (1848), 194.

Hédouin, Mosaïque (1856), cat. 41.

Mantz, “L’École française” (1859), 351.

Thoré-Burger, “Exposition de tableaux” (1860), 268, 272-73.

Goncourt, L’Art au XVIIIème siècle (1860), 57.

Godard, “Exposition de Peinture” (1860), 333-34.

Mariette, Abecedario (1853-62), 6: 108.

Lejeune, Guide théorique et pratique (1864), 447.

Cousin, Le Tombeau de Watteau (1865), 28.

“Etat des tableaux de la collection La Caze” (1869), n.p.

Hix, “La Galerie La Caze (1870), 330, 337.

Mantz, “La Collection La Caze” (1870), 12.

Guiffrey and Courajod, “Documents sur la vente de la collection du Marquis de Ménars” (1873), 396.

Paris, Louvre, Tableaux légués par M. La Caze (1871), 71.

Goncourt, Catalogue raisonné (1875), cat. 84.

Goncourt, L’Art du dix-huitième siècle (1880), 51, 57.

Mollet, Watteau (1883), 3, 65.

Mantz, Watteau (1892), 115, 175.

Phillips, Watteau (1895), 38, 72.

Dilke, French Painters (1899), 83.

Fourcaud, “L’Existence de Watteau” (1901), 257.

Staley, Watteau (1902), 69-70, 128.

Legrand, Les Donateurs du Louvre (1902), 13.

Paris, Louvre, Catalogue sommaire des peintures (1903), 93.

Josz, Watteau (1903), 122, 288, 401-03.

Josz, Watteau (1904), XII, 52, 125.

Pilon, Watteau et son école (1912), 24, 25, 27, 57, 74, 102, 103, 126, 167.

Fourcaud, “Scènes et figures théatrales” (1904), 141.

Zimmerman, Watteau (1912), no. 22.

Dacier, Vuaflart, and Hérold, Jean de Jullienne et les graveurs (1921-29), 1: 70, 263; 2: 29, 58, 62, 76, 93, 96, 121; 3: cat. 129.

Seailles, Watteau (1927), 84.

Réau, “Watteau” (1928), cat. 92.

Gillet, La Peinture au musée du Louvre (1929), 32.

Bazin, “Manet et la tradition“ (1932), 152.

Ratouis de Limay, “Trois collectioneurs” (1938), 78.

Vallée (Adhémar), “Sources de l’art” (1939), 67-68.

Kerr, “Artist Returns Stolen Watteau” (1939) 1, 3.

Watt, “Notes from Paris” (1939), 74.

Esterov, “Un Vol au Louvre” (1939?), 75-79.

Brinckmann, Watteau (1943), cat. 14.

Claudel, L’Oeil écoute (1946), 151.

Adhémar, Watteau (1950), 28-29, 34, 36, 153, cat. 129.

Mathey, Watteau, peintures réapparues (1959), 69.

Schefer, “Visible et thématique” (1962), 51.

Brookner, Watteau (1967), no. 17            .

Macchia and Montagni, L’opera completa di Watteau (1968), cat. 159.

Pouillon, Watteau (1969), under no. III.

Ferré, Watteau (1972), cat. A 17.

Compin and Reynaud, Catalogue des peintures (1972), 398.

Paris, Louvre, Catalogue illustré (1974), 227.

Goulinat, Jean-Gabriel Goulinat (1974), 68-71.

Colette, En Pays connu (1975), 184-88.

Haskell, Rediscoveries in Art (1976), 18.

Mazauric, Le Louvre en voyage (1978), 104.

Le Coat, “French Art and the Unconscious” (1979), 54.

Ferré, Watteau (1980), 25.

Tomlinson, La Fête galante (1981), 36-37.
           
Roland Michel, Watteau (1981), cat. 199.

Roland Michel, Watteau (1984), 7, 247, 251, 254, 273.

Posner, Watteau (1984), 169.

Bergeon, “Quelques examples de vandalisme en peinture” (1985), 33.

Compin and Roquebert, Catalogue sommaire (1986), 4: 285.

Rosenberg, “Le Recueil de Valenciennes” (1986), 288.

Edwards, “Watteau and the Dance" (1987), 219-20.

Paris, Louvre, Guide du Visiteur (1993), 79.

Chastel, L'Art français, Ancien régime (1993), 252.

Huyghe, Une Vie pour l’art (1994), 96.

Chastel, L’Art français, Ancien régime (1995), 269.

Fumaroli, “Une Amitié paradoxale” (1996), 39.

Rosenberg and Prat, Watteau, Catalogue raisonné des dessins (1996), 1: cat. 325, 2: cat. 477.

Börsch-Supan, Watteau (2000), 78.

Cohen, Art, Dance, and the Body (2000), 206.

Regnault de Beaucaron, Derniers souvenirs de famille (2001), 7: 247.

Temperini, Watteau (2002), 75, cat. 75.

Gordon, The Houses and Collections of the Marquis de Marigny (2003), 37, 303.

Paris, Louvre, 1001 peintures (2005), cat. 205.

Rosenberg, Dictionnaire amoureux du Louvre (2007), 893-99.
           
Dubreuil, “La Caze et le commerce” (2007), 73-74.

Faroult and Eloy, La Collection La Caze (2007), 114.

Faroult and Eloy, La Collection La Caze CD-ROM (2007), L’Indifférent.

Michel, Le «célèbre Watteau» (2008), 92, 231, 260.         

Martin, Raymond, and Sahut, “Tableaux du Louvre” (2009), 97-106, cat. 12.

Marsat, “Les Techniques d’imagerie scientifique” (2009), 76-81.

Provoyeur, “Le Petit théâtre de gravure d’Antoine Watteau” (2010), 58-59.

Galard, Promenades au Louvre (2010), 563, 573.

Glorieux, Watteau (2011), 168, 171.

Pomarede and Grebe, Le Louvre. Toutes les peintures (2012)

Schommer, Il faut sauver la Jaconde! (2014), 115-121.

 

RELATED DRAWINGS

Fig 2

Watteau, Four Studies of a Standing Man, red, black, and white chalk, 25 x 37 cm. France, private collection.

 

The character of L’Indifférent is wholly based on the figure second from the left on a sheet of studies in a French private collection (Rosenberg and Prat 325). There the model assumed four different but closely related poses. In two he appears frontally, and in the other two he is seen from behind. He wears the same costume in all four poses, but each time his cape is adjusted differently, so much so that it almost takes center stage. The varied attitudes that Watteau drew here remind us that he rarely had a specific goal in mind when he drew; these poses were not meant to convey specific actions or emotions, and to a degree this reticence carries over into his paintings.

 

REMARKS

a

Watteau, L’Indifférent, oil on panel, 25.5 x 19 cm.  Paris, Musée du Louvre.

b

Watteau, La Finette, oil on panel, 25.3 x 18.9 cm. Paris, Musée du Louvre.

Since the early eighteenth century, L’Indifférent has been paired with La Finette. They have the same support and, in fact, a 2009 analysis undertaken in the Louvre laboratory found that the two panels are cut from the same board.  Each presenting just one figure, they complement each other in subject and composition. La Finette features a woman with a theorbo, and when seen in relation to L’IndifférentLa Finette could be viewed as providing the music to accompany the man’s dancing. Some critics have termed the pair allegories of music and dance, though this seems to overdo the argument. Despite modern critics’ opinions, Watteau rarely thought in allegorical terms.

The grace of pose in L'Indifférent stems from a specific code of etiquette. The man’s legs are carefully positioned with one foot turned at a right angle to the other. In the formalized language of dance at that time, this is fourth position and it was also recommended for men standing at rest. This is the same position that Louis XIV assumed a few years earlier for his portrait by Hyacinthe Rigaud. L’Indifférent’s arms are posed in second position. In striking this position, he poses just before he begins his dance—cued by the music supplied in the pendant La Finette.

Critics have emphasized the title supplied by Scotin’s engraving. But is the protagonist truly indifferent? Could he not also be described as languid or torpid, or lost in revery? It should be remembered that it was a versifier, working almost a decade after the painter’s death, who supplied the title that appears on the print. Dacier, Vuaflart, and Hérold pointed out that there was a Compagnie des Indifférents at the time but, again, that fact relates more to the versifier than to Watteau.

Critics and scholars have waxed over the beauty of Watteau’s painting and yet, sadly, it is a damaged work. As far back as the eighteenth century, Jean-Baptiste Marie Pierre (1714-1780) noted that L’Indifférent and its pendant had been over-cleaned. A comparison of the Scotin print with the Louvre painting reveals how much has been lost. For example, all the distant buildings visible in the print have disappeared from the panel, and not all the drapery folds  correspond to what was originally engraved. One reads reports that La Caze himself cleaned some of his paintings. Worse, still, in 1939 the painting was stolen from the Louvre by the Russian-born painter and self-proclaimed restorer Serge Bogowalaecsky. He subjected the picture to his ministrations, removing overpainting in the landscape, cleaning the face, and removing a spool and string that a previous restorer had put in the man’s hand (its appearance with the spool and string is recorded in copy 20 below). When the painting was returned that same year, the Louvre restorer supposedly undid some of Bogowalaecsky’s modifications. In recent years, further work has been carried out in the museum’s laboratory. Regardless of which changes were correct or not, it is evident that the Louvre painting is dark and moody, and thus unlike Watteau’s better preserved pictures.

In 1984 Rosenberg remarked on the relative unanimity of critics in dating L’Indifférent and La Finette: “all of the scholars placed them between 1716 and 1718, with the majority opting for 1717.”  Although it is true that Mathey, Macchia and Montagni, Roland Michel, Börsch-Supan, and Temperini all chose the date 1717, Adhémar preferred an earlier range of c. 1712-1715.

 


 

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