18 July 1721, the French painter Jean-Antoine Watteau died at the age of 36 in Nogent-sur-Marne.
“Watteau, carnival where the loves of many famous hearts
Flutter capriciously like butterflies with gaudy wings;
Cool, airy settings where the candelabras' light
Touches with madness the couples whirling in the dance“
(Baudelaire, “Les Phares“)
|Antoine Watteau: The (quite frugal) “Feast of Love”|
Antoine Watteau: The Italian Comedians, 1721
Watteau’s sujet was unusually limited for an artist of his calibre, good, clean fun assembled with a touch of irony and to give utterance to this image was his only stroke of genius in this regard. But a quite consequential one. His actors of the commedia dell'arte, his ladies and gentlemen depicted populating Arcadia and uncommonly tame balls and Venetian feasts act on an imaginary stage and all seem about to dissolve in pure poetry the very next moment. Outside of the collections of melancholic enlightened-absolutistic monarchs and advocates of civil virtue, science and art, his works were soon forgotten when those who still had their say celebrated the rest of the 18th century in a rather un-Watteausque glittering ball that ended on the bayonets of the revolutionaries. The various fashions and artistic movements of the long 19th century resurrected him though, almost by accident and Watteau became something of an archetype of a melancholic artist as well as a pioneer of perception for the Impressionists and their successors.
And more about Antoine Watteau on:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean-Antoine_Watteau