Detail from Cinq musiciens ambulant (Five strolling musicians) by François Boucher, after Antoine Watteau, ca. 1726-1728. Dayton C. Miller Collection, Music Division, Library of Congress.
after a drawing by Jean Antoine Watteau, painter of fêtes galantes, draughtsman and engraver, 1684-1721
This scene depicts four blind musicians and a young boy who plays a pipe and tabor. All of the figures are half-length. Each of the old men wears a short cape and a cap. Two of them play a hurdy-gurdy; the other two face the left and hold their left hands in the identical position, but the hurdy-gurdys they must be holding are hidden by their cloaks.
François Boucher created over one hundred etchings after drawings by Watteau for Figures de différents caractères de paysages & etudes dessinées d'après nature... Gravées à l'eau forte par des plus habiles peintres et graveurs du temps. This was a two-volume folio edition that was published in Paris by Audran & Chereau, 1726-1728, for Jean de Jullienne (1686-1766), a wealthy textile manufacturer, engraver, and collector of Watteau's work.
The Miller etching is numbered 347, which corresponds to this print by Boucher in Figures de différents caractères.... The location of the drawing by Watteau on which this etching was based is not known, but the Watteau drawing is believed to have been based on a drawing by Antoine Le Nain (ca. 1600-1648). The Miller etching by Boucher also has a watermark "P [heart] GOURBEYRE" which corresponds to the watermark on the sheets in Figures de différents caractères.... There are several sources with specific references to this Boucher print after Watteau. Among them is Prosper de Baudicour, Le Peintre-Graveur Français continué.... See vol. 2, 1861, pp. 88-89, no. 147, which includes a description in French which is translated here: "Five strolling musicians: the one who is on the left and the other in the back, at the right, play the hurdy-gurdy; they are accompanied by a boy who is in the middle and who plays a galoubet and a drum: the other two appear to sing."
The inscriptions refer to Boucher as the engraver and Watteau as the draughtsman. The title of the print in the Miller collection, Cinq musiciens ambulant (Five strolling musicians), is based on the title for it given in Jean-Richard cited in footnote 2. The date of ca. 1726-1728, is based on the original publication date of Figures de différents caractères... for which Boucher created etchings after drawings by Watteau.
See two other Miller etchings after Watteau, 151/X, by Bernard Baron, and 606/Y, by Michel Aubert, both of which were engraved for the Recueil Jullienne. In addition, there are two photographs in the Miller collection of works by Watteau in European museums - a drawing of a flutist, 518/P, in the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, and a painting of the central figures in L'Accord Parfait, by an anonymous artist after Watteau, 348/P, in the National Gallery, London.
About the Artists
François Boucher, painter, draughtsman and engraver, 1703-1770
François Boucher, a painter, draughtsman and engraver, was born in Paris in 1703 and died in the same city in 1770. He probably studied painting first with his father, Nicolas Bouché (ca. 1672-1743). He also studied painting with François Lemoyne (1688-1737). Boucher worked as an engraver for Jean-François Cars (1661-1730), an engraver and publisher, from about 1723 to about 1728. It was about this time that Boucher produced etchings after Watteau's drawings for Jean de Jullienne's Figures de différents caractères... which was published in 1726-1728. Boucher won the Prix de Rome in 1723, but did not travel to Italy until 1727 where he was much influenced by the work of Italian Baroque decorative painters - Albani, Pietro da Cortona, and Luca Giordano. He returned to Paris in 1731, was received into the Academy in 1734, and soon developed his mature style, painting scenes of fashionable life, mythological scenes, or portraits, all of which had a graceful air, vibrant coloring and bravura brushwork. He was patronized by Louis XV and Mme de Pompadour and created designs for tapestries, porcelains, decorations for Versailles and Fontainebleau, and theater and opera sets. He was a prolific artist, producing more than 10,000 drawings and 1,000 paintings, and was named Premier Peintre du Roi in 1765. Boucher was the teacher of Jean-Honoré Fragonard (1732-1806), who also painted light, charming subjects in a very similar style.
Jean Antoine Watteau, painter of fêtes galantes, draughtsman and engraver, 1684-1721
Jean-Antoine Watteau was a French draughtsman and painter known for his fêtes galantes - scenes of elegant figures walking, conversing, or making music in tranquil landscape settings - a genre which he invented.
- Figures de différents caractères... is not in the Library of Congress. A copy is in the New York Public Library, and another copy is in the Musée du Louvre, Cabinet des Dessins, Edmond de Rothschild Collection. [back to article]
- Prosper de Baudicour, Le Peintre-Graveur Français continué, ou Catalogue raisonné des etampes gravées par les peintres et les dessinateurs de l'école française nés dans le XVIIIe siècle.... Paris: Mme Bouchard-Huzard and Leipzig: R. Weigel, 1859-1861. Prints and Photographs Division. LC call number: NE149.R63. [back to article]
- Original text: "Cinq musiciens ambulants: celui qui est à gauche et celui du fond, à droite, jouent de la vielle; ils sont accompagnés par un jeune garçon qui est au milieu et qui joue du galoubet et du tambourin: les deux autres paraissent chanter. Ils sont tous vus à mi-corps. Au bas, à gauche, on lit: Boucher S. et à droite, Wate. del. puis du trait carré, du même côté, le no 347. Largeur: 313 millim. Hauteur: 250 millim., y compris 17 millim. de marge." Other important sources are: Edmond de Goncourt, Catalogue raisonné de l'oeuvre peint, dessiné et gravé d'Antoine Watteau. Paris: Rapilly, 1875. National Gallery of Art call number: N44.W35G6. See p. 310, no. 729. In this instance, the instrument the boy plays is described as an "hautbois" or oboe.; Marcel Roux, Bibliothèque Nationale. Département des Estampes. Inventaire du Fonds Français. Graveurs du dix-huitième siècle. Paris: Maurice le Gerrec, 1930- . National Gallery of Art call number: NE647.P35. See vol. 3, 1934, p. 280, no. 121.; K. T. Parker and Jacques Mathey [usually referred to as Parker-Mathey], Antoine Watteau: catalogue complet de son oeuvre dessiné. 2 vols. Paris: F. de Nobele, 1957-1958. LC call number: NC1055.W3P28. See vol. 1, 1957, p. 48, no. 343, which is really a catalogue entry for a Watteau drawing, Six heads, after Antoine Le Nain. There is a brief reference at the end of this entry for Watteau's original drawing of a boy with blind musicians, also copied after Le Nain.; Pierrette Jean-Richard, Musée du Louvre. Cabinet des Dessins. Collection Edmond de Rothschild. Inventaire générale des gravures Ecole française. I. L'oeuvre gravé de François Boucher dans la Collection de Edmond de Rothschild. Paris: Editions des Musées Nationaux, 1978. LC call number: ND553.B7A4 1978. See p. 61, cat. no. 149, repr.; Pierre Rosenberg and Louis-Antoine Prat. Antoine Watteau, 1684-1721: catalogue raisonné des dessins. 3 vols. LC call number: NC248.W3A4 1996. See vol. 3, in section on Watteau drawings known only through engravings after them, pp. 1400-1401, cat. no. G128, repr. [back to article]
- Biographical information on Boucher was drawn from two sources: Marc Jordan, "François Boucher," in the Oxford Companion to Western Art which is available online via Oxford Art Online; and, a longer article by Alastair Laing, "François Boucher" which includes a bibliography for further reading, in Grove Art Online. Oxford Art Online (both by subscription only). [back to article]
- For additional biographical information on Watteau as well as sources for further reading, see an article by Marc Jordan, "Jean-Antoine Watteau," in the Oxford Companion to Western Art available via Oxford Art Online; and, see also a longer article by Humphrey Wine, "(Jean-) Antoine Watteau," in Grove Art Online. Oxford Art Online (both by subscription only). A major exhibition of Watteau's work was held in Washington, Paris, and Berlin in 1984-1985. See the catalogue that accompanied this exhibition authored by Margaret Morgan Grasselli and Pierre Rosenberg, Watteau 1684-1721, Washington: National Gallery of Art, 1984-1985. LC call number: N6853.W38A4 1984. This is an excellent source on Watteau. It includes biographical material on Watteau and his artist friends and collectors of his work, full catalogue entries and reproductions of many of his drawings and paintings, an essay on Watteau's working methods and media, and an essay on Watteau and music, which includes a listing and illustrations of musical instruments found in his works. For an excellent discussion of Jullienne, his relationship with Watteau, and his two publications, Figures de différents caractères..., engravings after Watteau's drawings, of 1726-1728, and L'Oeuvre d'Antoine Watteau... (known as the Recueil Jullienne), engravings after Watteau's paintings, of 1735, see Marianne Roland Michel, Watteau: An Artist of the Eighteenth Century. Secaucus, New Jersey: Chartwell Books, 1984, pp. 54, 243-259, and 260-276. This book is not in the Library of Congress. Another imprint (New York: Alpine Fine Books, 1984) is available at the library of Georgetown University, call number: ND553.W3R6513 1984. Another good source for brief descriptions of Jean de Jullienne's two publishing endeavors of engravings after the works of Watteau can be found in Pierrette Jean-Richard, François Boucher: gravures et dessins provenant du Cabinet des dessins et de la Collection Edmond de Rothschild au Musée du Louvre. Exhibition catalogue. Paris: Ministère des affaires culturelles, Réunion des musées nationaux, 1971, pp. 41-42, and 45. LC call number: NE2049.5.B6P3. For an image of Jullienne with Watteau, an etching by Tardieu after Watteau, see Rosenberg and Prat, cited above, vol. 1, facing p. IX. Jullienne is seated, playing a bass viol, and Watteau stands behind him, holding his palette. [back to article]