Detail from L'Accord Parfait (Perfect Harmony) by Bernard Baron, after Antoine Watteau, ca. 1729. Dayton C. Miller Collection, Music Division, Library of Congress.
after a painting by Jean-Antoine Watteau, painter of fêtes galantes, draughtsman and engraver, 1684-1721
In this scene, two couples - one seated and one strolling - and a lutenist are enclosed in a wooded, park-like setting. In the center, a man plays a one-keyed transverse flute of the French pattern as made by Hotteterre, while the woman holds an open score in her lap. The other man and woman stroll behind them, while a musician sits at the lower right holding a lute, his back to the viewer. A statue of a herm (also called a term) is at the upper left. Bernard Baron created this etching in 1729, after Antoine Watteau's painting L'Accord Parfait of 1719, for the Recueil Jullienne, a compilation of 271 engravings by various artists after the paintings of Watteau, most of which were in the collection of Jean de Jullienne (1686-1766). The Recueil Jullienne was published in 1735.
The title of Watteau's painting and the etching after it, L'Accord Parfait, can be translated as either Perfect Accord or Perfect Harmony. Both the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the National Gallery, London, have paintings entitled L'Accord Parfait. Perfect Accord is the translation preferred by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. The title given here for the Miller print, Perfect Harmony, agrees with the translation given by the National Gallery, London.
The Latin inscription, "magna inter molles concordia," comes from Juvenal, Satire, Book 2, line 47. The titles of Watteau's paintings and the prints after them were chosen by Jullienne and his friends. Some of the prints in the Recueil Jullienne carry a phrase of Latin verse derived from classical sources. It is not known who provided these Latin phrases, but they have no direct relation to Watteau's paintings or to his inspiration for them.
The original painting, L'Accord Parfait, had a pendant, La Surprise, and both were painted by Watteau for Nicolas Hénin (1691-1724). After Hénin's death, both paintings entered the collection of Jean de Jullienne. The etchings after them were made while they were in Jullienne's collection – L'Accord Parfait by Baron, with its inscription from Juvenal, and La Surprise by Audran, with an inscription, "Occupat amplexu," from Ovid's Fastes, Book 3, line 509. Watteau's painting, L'Accord Parfait, was no longer in Jullienne's collection as of 1756 and it passed into several other collections before entering the collection of Edmond de Rothschild in Paris, then that of the Duke of Sutherland in London.
The Miller etching's measurements, 13 x 11 inches, are nearly the exact dimensions of the painting, L'Accord Parfait, in Los Angeles. (In fact, the inscription beneath the etching, "Gravé d'Apres le Tableau original Peint par Watteau, de même grandeur...," states "Engraved after the original painting by Watteau, of the same size..."). However, the etching is a mirror image of the original painting.
See another etching, 606/Y, in the Miller collection after Watteau, by Michel Aubert, Fêtes au Dieu Pan, which was also engraved for the Recueil Jullienne. See, as well, 81/Y, Cinq musiciens ambulant, an etching by Boucher, after a drawing by Watteau. 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
Bernard Baron, engraver and etcher, 1696-1762
Bernard Baron, a French engraver and etcher, was born in Paris in 1696, but he worked in England. He died in London in 1762. Baron was the son-in-law and student of Nicolas-Henri Tardieu (1674-1749), considered one of the finest etchers of the 18th century. Baron first went to London in 1712 when he accompanied the French engraver Claude Du Bosc (active 1711-1740) to assist with the engraving of murals at Marlborough House. In 1724, he engraved eight plates of the Life of Achilles after Rubens.
In 1729, he returned to Paris where he engraved L'Accord Parfait the first of four plates he made for the Recueil Jullienne, a compendium of 271 engravings of Watteau's paintings and decorations for Jean de Jullienne (1686-1766), a wealthy textile manufacturer, engraver, and collector of Watteau's work, which was ultimately published in 1735. The four prints Baron made for the Recueil Jullienne are included in J. Meyer et al., Allgemeines Künstler-Lexikon. 3 vols. Leipzig: W. Engelmann, 1872-1885. See vol. 3, pp. 30-31, nos. 51-54. LC call number: N40.M47. Baron also engraved a copy of Titian's Pardo Venus for the second volume of the Recueil Crozat, a collection of prints of Italian paintings in French collections which was published in 1742.
Baron knew many of England's most important artists, sculptors and architects. He was one of four French artists chosen by Hogarth to engrave plates for his Marriage à la mode series. Baron also engraved portraits by Hogarth and Allan Ramsey, as well as the works of Holbein, Rubens, Van Dyck, and Teniers. A full listing of Baron's engravings and etchings is given in Meyer, cited above, pp. 30-31.
A drawing by Watteau of an engraver at work, in the British Museum, is thought by some to be a portrait of Baron, though other friends of Watteau - Nicolas Dorigny (1652-1746) and Nicolas Vleughels (1668-1737) - have also been suggested. For a discussion of the possible identities of the sitter in the British Museum drawing, as well as a color reproduction of it, see Pierre Rosenberg and Louis-Antoine Prat, Antoine Watteau: catalogue raisonné des dessins. Paris: Gallimard, 1996, vol. 1, pp. 1090-. LC call number: NC248.W3A4 1996. The drawing is also reproduced in black and white and accompanies a short biography on Baron in an essay by Nicole Parmantier, "The Friends of Watteau," in Grasselli and Rosenberg, cited in the biography of Watteau given herein, p. 32. In her biography of Baron, Mme Parmantier refers to Tardieu as Baron's step-father.
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.
- For the full Latin text and translation of Juvenal's Satires, see Juvenal and Persius, translated by G. G. Ramsey. London: William Heinemann; and Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1940. National Gallery of Art Library, call number: PA6156.J8. [back to article]
- See Emile Dacier and Albert Vuaflart, Jean de Jullienne et les graveurs de Watteau au XVIIIe siècle. Paris: Pour les membres de la Société pour l'Etude de la Gravure Française, 1921-1929. 4 vols. (fourth volume in two parts, 4.1 and 4.2, therefore 5 volumes in all). LC call number: ND553.W3D3. For a discussion of the titles of Watteau's works in the Recueil Jullienne and the Latin verses that are inscribed on several of the prints, see vol. 2, pp. 91-92. Baron's print, L'Accord Parfait, appears in vol. 3, pp. 15-16, no. 23. A history of Watteau's painting and its ownership are given in the catalogue entry. [back to article]
- L'Accord Parfait, a small oil painting on a panel, is now in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, accession number: AC1999.18.1. The pendant painting, La Surprise, is now in the royal collection in Buckingham Palace. [back to article]
- See Dacier for the entry for La Surprise, the etching by Audran, in vol. 3, pp. 20-21, no. 31. Both etchings, L'Accord Parfait by Baron, and La Surprise by Audran, are reproduced in Dacier, vol. 4.1, plates 23 and 31 respectively. [back to article]
- Baron's etching after Watteau's painting L'Accord Parfait is listed with other etchings and engravings by Baron in a biographical dictionary on artists by J. Meyer et al., Allgemeines Künstler-Lexikon, vol. 3, no. 51, the full citation for which is given in the biography of Bernard Baron. This etching by Baron is also included in Edmond de Goncourt, Catalogue raisonné de l'oeuvre peint, dessiné et gravé d'Antoine Watteau. Paris: Rapilly, 1875, pp. 95-96, no. 97. This book is not in the Library of Congress. See copy in the National Gallery of Art Library, call number: N44.W35G6. [back to article]
- The biographical information on Baron given here is based mostly on an article by Elizabeth Miller, "Bernard Baron," in Grove Art Online. Oxford Art Online (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]