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Les Comédiens italiens (copy 1)
Entered June 2019

fig 1

Washington, National Gallery of Art, gift of George Wildenstein, inv. 1960.131

Oil on canvas

63.8 x 76 cm

 

ALTERNATIVE TITLES

The Italian Comedians

 

PROVENANCE

England, private collection.

Paris, collection of Camille Groult (1837-1908; heir to a fortune from flour milling); with Groult by 1892, according to Phillips; by descent within the Groult family until at least c. 1956.

New York, with Wildenstein and Co.; donated to the National Gallery of Art in 1960.

 

EXHIBITIONS

Louisville, Speed Museum, The Mask of Comedy (1990), cat. 11 (After Jean Antoine Watteau, French, 19th century, Italian Comedians, lent by the National Gallery of Art.).

 

SELECT BIBLIOGRAPHY

Mantz, Watteau (1892), 119,

Phillips, Watteau (1895), 70.

Dilke, French Painters of the XVIIIth Century (1899), 87.

Réau, “Watteau” (1928), under cat. 70.

London, Royal Academy, French Painting (1932), under cat. 260.

Adhémar, Watteau (1950), under cat. 211.

Macchia and Montagni, L’opera completa di Watteau (1968), under cat. 203.

Ferré, Watteau (1972), cat. B21.

Eisler, Kress Collection (1977), 304.

Paris, Washington, Berlin, Watteau 1684-1721, under cat. P71.

Posner, Watteau (1984), 263.

Conisbee, French Paintings (2009), 481.

 


REMARKS

fig

Watteau, Les Comédiens italiens. Washington, National Gallery of Art.

fig

Anonymous artist after Watteau, Les Comédiens italiens. Washngton, National Gallery of Art.

Given that both Watteau’s original version and this copy are in the same direction and are similar in color, the one must have been copied from the other. The Groult copy apparently did not depend on the Baron engraving. The copy is the same overall size, but the scale of the figures is slightly smaller to accommodate the additional elements introduced at the sides and at top. The larger space at the right side is filled by a greater expanse of the red curtain, and the larger space at the top affords a view of the top of the central pediment and a broader expanse of sky.

The differences in the colors of some of the actors’ costumes seems seem random: the fool’s costume is red and blue rather than just red, the guitarist’s cape is blue rather than red, the old doctor has a red undergarment.

Beginning at least as far back as Mantz in 1892, and 1895 with Phillips' monograph on Watteau, some scholars considered the Groult version superior. Mantz and Phillips described the Groult version as brilliant in color and freely painted, and dismissed the painting then in the Iveagh collection (now Kress Collection) as heavy and dull in color. Pierre Rosenberg rightly dismissed the Groult version as “unimaginative.”

 

 

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Les Comédiens italiens (copy 2)
Entered June 2019

fig 1

Whereabouts unknown

Medium unknown

Measurements unknown

 

PROVENANCE

Paris, collection of a M. Ries (employee of the Ministry of Commerce).

 

SELECT BIBLIOGRAPHY

Hédouin, “Watteau” (1854), under cat. 75.

Hédouin, Mosaïque (1856) under cat. 75.

Dacier, Vuaflart, and Hérold, Jean de Jullienne et les graveurs (1921-29), under cat 204.

Macchia and Montagni, L’opera completa di Watteau (1968), under cat. 203.

Paris, Washington, Berlin, Watteau 1684-1721, under cat. P71.
 

           
REMARKS

When citing Ries’ painting, Hédouin described it as “une copie réduite” of Watteau’s original composition. Did he mean that its dimensions were smaller than those of the original or did he mean that there were fewer figures than Watteau had employed in his original version?

In 1984 Rosenberg claimed that Hédouin described the painting as recently made but Hédouin made no such claim.

 

 

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Les Comédiens italiens (copy 3)
Entered June 2019

fig 1

Whereabouts unknown

Medium unknown

Measurements unknown

 

PROVENANCE

Ottley, Shropshire, Mainwaring collection.

New York, art market (prior to 1984).

 

SELECT BIBLIOGRAPHY

Washington, Paris, Berlin, Watteau 1684-1721 (1984), under cat P71.

 

REMARKS

It has not been possible to trace this painting.

 

 

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Les Comédiens italiens (copy 4)
Entered June 2019

fig 1

Whereabouts unknown

Medium unknown

Measurements unknown

           

PROVENANCE

Roubaix, collection of Alphonse Wattel-Bayard (d. 1906; vice-président de la Société Artistique de Roubaix); sold Roubaix, December 17-18ff, 1906 .

 

EXHIBITIONS

Lille, Palais Rameau, Watteau (1889), cat. 111 (as Watteau, Comédiens italiens, lent by M. Wattel-Bayard).

 

SELECT BIBLIOGRAPHY

Adhémar, Watteau (1950) under cat. 211.

Macchia and Montagni, L’opera completa di Watteau (1968), under cat. 203.

Eisler, Kress Collection (1977), 304.

Washington, Paris, Berlin, Watteau 1684-1721 (1984) under cat P71.

 

REMARKS

Adhémar claimed that the painting in the Wattel-Bayard collection was a copy after Les Comédiens italiens, and, unaware of the number of copies after this Watteau composition, wondered whether this copy was to be identified with the one owned by Ries (our copy 2). It is not possible to determine whether the Wattel-Bayard painting was actually after the Kress painting or was merely a picture showing Italian comedians.

 

 

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Les Comédiens italiens (copy 5)
Entered June 2019

fig 1

Whereabouts unknown

Oil on canvas

48 x 58 cm

 

PROVENANCE

Paris, March 22, 1948, lot 21: “WATTEAU (genre de Jean-Antoine) . . . Comédiens Italiens. Toile. Haut., 0mt45; Larg., 0m58.”

 

SELECT BIBLIOGRAPHY

Washington, Paris, Berlin, Watteau 1684-1721 (1984), under cat P71.

 

REMARKS

In the 1984 tercentenary catalogue, this work was listed as a copy after the Kress picture. However, no image of the painting has been located, and the name employed in the 1948 auction—Comédiens italiens—could as well apply to other Watteau compositions with commedia dell’arte characters.

 

 

 

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Les Comédiens italiens (copy 6)
Entered June 2019

fig 1

Whereabouts unknown
 
Oil on canvas

127 x 91 cm

 

PROVENANCE

Versailles, sale, July 27, 1961, lot 46: "Atelier de Watteau.”

 

SELECT BIBLIOGRAPHY

Washington, Paris, Berlin, Watteau 1684-1721 (1984) under cat P71.

 

REMARKS

It has not been possible to locate this sale catalogue.

 

 

 

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Les Comédiens italiens (copy 7)
Entered June 2019

fig 1

Whereabouts unknown

Medium unknown

Measurements unknown

 

PROVENANCE

New York, Parke Bernet, sale, June 9, 1939, lot 124.

London, with Knoedler.

 

SELECT BIBLIOGRAPHY

Washington, Paris, Berlin, Watteau 1684-1721 (1984) under cat P71.

 

REMARKS

According to Rosenberg, the painting was a pastiche of Les Comédiens italiens. However, it has not been possible to locate a sale catalogue of this date with such a painting.

 


 

For copies of Les Comédiens italiens CLICK HERE