None of Watteau's contemporaries fathomed the meaning of his art: not Count de Caylus, not his successors, who all recognised the masterly draughtsman, the marvellous colourist, the composer of pastoral ballets, of matchless fêtes galantes, of conversations, of miniatures depicting camp life, and fanciful decorations in the true style of his times.
Seated on a low ottoman, in a little recess among the tall palms and tree-ferns, which lined the passage leading from the ball-room to the studio, she was startled presently from her reverie by Mrs. Lightmark, who confronted her, a dainty figure in the pale rose colour and apple-green of one of Watteau's most unpractical shepherdesses.
Among old Watteau's workpeople came his son, "the genius," my father's godson and namesake, a dark-haired youth, whose large, unquiet eyes seemed perpetually wandering to the various drawings which lie exposed here. My father will have it that he is a genius indeed, and a painter born.
It was then that he painted a sign for this friend, Gersaint, a sign so wonderful that it is reckoned in the history of Watteau's paintings. Soon he grew so sensitive over his illness, that he did not wish to remain near his dearest friends, but one of them, the Abbe Haranger, insisted upon looking after his welfare, and got lodgings for him at Nogent, where he could have country air and peace.
L'Indifférent, that young man in the Louvre who treads the earth with such light disdain, with such an airy expression of sweetness and ennui, that picture, Mauclair remarks, is the soul of Watteau. And, perhaps, spills his secret. Mauclair does not like the coupling of Watteau's name with those of Boucher, Pater, Lancret, De Troy, Coypel, or Vanloo.
The same characteristics are to be found in Watteau's other pictures such as, "Embarkation for the Island of Cythera," "The Judgment of Paris," and "Gay Company in a Park." American 1738-1820 Pupil of the Italian School The beautiful smile of his little niece helped to make this man an artist.
Camille Mauclair eloquently ends his study with the confession that the mere utterance of Watteau's name "suffices to evoke in men's minds a memory of the melancholy that was his, arrayed in garments of azure and rose. Ah! crepuscular Psyche, whose smile is akin to tears!"
"It likes Boucher's Cupids, Watteau's Pastorals, nudities, anecdotes, and copies of the past." It was hard for Millet, but hunger drove him. He would not appeal to his family, life was as difficult for them as for him. But before yielding he would make one more trial, painting something from his own fancy.
The dwellers in that Arcady are as far removed from the nymphs and swains of Watteau's day as from a primitive Greek population; they behave as no human beings ever did or could behave; they belong in short to a particularly unconvincing kind of fairy-land, of which the vogue happily died out at an early stage.
Watteau was elected an Academician in 1717, when he was thirty-three years of age, and he afterwards came to England, but did not remain there. He died of consumption at Nogent-sur-Marne in 1721, when he was thirty-six years of age. Watteau's gifts were his grace and brilliance on a small scale.