Les Entretiens badins (copy 1)
Entered October 2021
Turin, collection of M. Caissotti. His sale, Paris, February 15-16, 1850, lot 48: “WATTEAU . . . Scène de la Comédie italienne; huit figures à mi-corps. Composition connue par la gravure.”
Dacier, Vuaflart, and Hérold, Jean de Jullienne et les graveurs (1921-29), 3: under cat. 95.
Réau, “Watteau” (1928), cat,141.
Adhémar, Watteau (1950), under cat.153.
Macchia and Montagni, L’opera completa di Watteau (1968), under cat. 91.
It was Dacier, Vuaflart, and Hérold who first suggested that Les Entretiens badins possibly figured in the 1850 Caissotti sale, an idea continued by Adhémar. Réau wrote as though the Caissotti painting was the original by Watteau. But as we know nothing about that painting, not even its dimensions, to be prudent we have listed it simply as a copy of Watteau’s composition.
It was sold together with another painting, also attributed to Watteau, and described as “Pierrot, Colombine et Arlequin; six figures à mi-corps. Composition aussi gravé.” Scholars from Dacier, Vuaflart, and Hérold onward have presumed that this referred to Watteau’s Du Bel âge, especially since the Jullienne engravings of the two were issued as pendants. However, the identity of the second work is problematic since Du Bel âge depicts only four figures. Did the compiler of the catalogue miscount or was the second work a totally different composition, perhaps a pastiche after Watteau reduced to half-length figures, or a work by Pater, Lancret, or another Watteau satellite? In any event, the description of this painting not only fails not support the attribution of the first painting but also casts doubt on the attribution of both paintings.
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