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image P111

Antoine Watteau (1684 - 1721)

L'Accordée du Village

c.1710-15
Date proposed by Dr Christoph Vogtherr of The Wallace Collection, 2015; previous datings by Adhémar: 1716; Macchia/Montagni: 1715; Rosenberg/ Camesasca: 1715; Roland Michel: 1713-14; Lauterbach: c.1713; Rosenberg and Prat: c.1715.

Oil on canvas

Height: 63cm
Width: 92cm

Museum number: P111

Curatorial note

L’'Accordée de village depicts a village wedding in a wide landscape. The actual wedding party is assembled around a table in the middle ground. Bride and groom are sitting in front of a red curtain that is supported by two trees. The table is framed by groups of dancers performing a branle on the right and a more formal danse à deux on the left. Further groups are visible in the foreground and in the distance.

The central group is similar to numerous paintings of village weddings by David Teniers. A painting in the Prado is particularly close (Teniers, Village Wedding, Madrid, Museo del Prado, PO1786), but numerous examples were in Parisian collections in the eighteenth century. Watteau closely followed these Flemish models but modified them. He dressed his figures in a combination of country dress, urban fashion and theatre costumes highlighting the imaginary character of the scene. Watteau is much more upfront about the unreal quality of his countryside than Teniers who wanted to create a believable reality and who employed dress in a much more consistent way. Watteau’s landscape is similarly telling. Most of the background features are Italian in character – a second-hand Italy as Watteau never saw the country.

L’Accordée de village has often been described as an example of Watteau’s Flemish roots. However, it was painted almost a decade after Watteau had moved from his birth town Valenciennes to Paris around 1702. Rather then seeing the painting as an example of an innately ‘Flemish’ trait in Watteau’s work it is more precise to interpret it as a reflection of a strong Parisian interest in Netherlandish painting. The traditional stylistic dating of the painting to c.1710 has recently been confirmed by Christian Michel who has argued that before that date it was illegal for Watteau to sell his works independently because he was neither a member of the Maîtrise, the guild of painters in Paris, nor of the Academy. Only around 1709, when he took part in the Academy’s Grand Prix, could Watteau work as an artist in his own right. This could also explain why Watteau produced paintings of very different character at that time because he might have tried to establish his own reputation as a painter. Among them, L’Accordée de village was one of his major steps into the new field of the Fête galante.

Beyond Rubens, the two leading Flemish artists admired at the time were David Teniers and Philip Wouwermans. Both served as direct models for Watteau and both were extensively collected in Watteau’s immediate environment. Teniers was one of the most sought-after painters from the Netherlands among Parisian collectors, known primarily for idealized scenes of rustic life, for highly finished paintings of village feasts and for interiors with peasant or soldiers. L’Accordée de village illustrates that without Teniers, Watteau would not have developed his typical style and subjects. In the eighteenth century Watteau was commonly described as the “French Teniers”, proving that the comparison between the two artists was part of Watteau’s success.

While paintings like L’Accordée de village continued an old rustic genre, they also formed one of the sources for Watteau’s Fêtes galantes – in their unrealistic combination of different elements, their depiction of leisurely and elegant celebration, their open-air sociability.

Stylistic evidence suggests that Watteau painted L’Accordée de village over an extended period, the reason for the slightly puzzling stylistic character of the work. The central group around the bride and part of the group of standing and dancing figures further to the left are of an earlier style than the figures on the right (e.g. the dancer and the bagpiper), some other figures on the left or the children in the left foreground. In the later parts, the figures are more substantial, the colour scheme is more adventurous, the movement stronger and the poise of the figures more elegant. The background landscape on the left might also have been part of this later campaign. It seems right to put several years inbetween these two phases. While the later elements might have been painted only a year or two before Watteau became a member of the Academy in 1717, the basic idea of the painting goes back to the years around 1710. Several copies and variants after the painting have occasionally been erroneously identified as autograph versions.

This entry was compiled by Dr Christoph Vogtherr, Director of the Wallace Collection, 2015

Provenance help-art-provenance

More than ten copies of this work are listed in different publications; one of the most significant being that in the Charlottenburg, Berlin (Stiftung Preusische Schlösser und Gärten Berlin-Brandenburg, inventory GK I 4183). The Soane picture may have been Lot 61 'Watteau ... The Marriage' sold by Messrs. Skinner and Dyke in March 1802 at the Sale of a 'Collection of Italian, Venetian, Spanish etc., Pictures which were purchased for His Majesty the late King of Poland'. It was purchased by Soane from C. Hunter Esq. on 26 April 1802 (Soane Archive: Day Book).

Literature

Soane, Description, 1830, pp.17 and 48
Soane, Description, 1835, p. 20 and 24
Emile Dacier and Albert Vuaflart, Jean de Jullienne et les graveurs de Watteau au XVIIIe siècle, Vol. 3, Paris, 1922, pp. 57-58, no. 116; Vol. 4, no. 116
Hélène Adhémar (with René Huyghe), Watteau sa vie – son œuvre, Paris 1950, pl. 63, p. 217, no. 130
Giovanni Macchia and E. C. Montagni, L’opera completa di Watteau, Milan 1968 (Classici d’arte), p. 107, no. 127
Pierre Rosenberg and Ettore Camesasca, Tout l’œuvre peint de Watteau, Paris 1982 (Les classiques d’art), pp. 106-107, no. 127
Marianne Roland Michel, Watteau. An Artist of the Eighteenth Century, London 1984, p. 51, 209, 214, 223, 266, 305, 307
Peter Thornton and Helen Dorey, A Miscellany of objects from Sir John Soane's Museum, 1992, p.125
Iris Lauterbach, Antoine Watteau 1684-1721, Cologne 2008, p. 10-11
Christian Michel, Le "célèbre Watteau", (Bibliothèque des Lumières, 71), Geneva, 2008 pp. 101-103, 199, 210.
Christoph Martin Vogtherr, Watteau at the Wallace Collection, London; The Wallace Collection, 2011, pp.33-40
Christoph Martin Vogtherr, et al., Französische Gemälde I. Watteau Pater Lancret Lajoüe, Berlin, Akademie Verlag 2011: Stiftung Preußische Schlösser und Gärten Berlin-Brandenburg. Bestandskataloge der Kunstsammlungen, pp. 227-232
Guillaume Glorieux, Watteau, 2011, pp.187-190
JoLynn Edwards, "Watteau and the Dance" in in Antoine Watteau (1784—1721): Le peintre, son temps et sa legende, ed. Francois Moureau and Margaret Morgan Grasselli, Paris, 1987, p.222
Nicole Parmantier, Margaret Morgan Grasselli and Pierre Rosenberg, Watteau (1684-1721): exhibition catalogue, National gallery of art, Washington/Galeries nationales du Grand Palais, Paris/Château de Charlottenbourg, Berlin, 1984-85, pp. 92-93, 289-290.
Christoph Vogtherr and Mary Tavener Holmes, De Watteau à Fragonard. Les Fêtes Galantes, Paris, 2014, pp.44-45 (cat. no. 2)

Exhibition history

De Watteau à Fragonard, Les Fêtes Galantes, Musée Jacquemart-André, Paris, 14 March - 21 July 2014
Esprit et Vérité: Watteau and His Circle, The Wallace Collection, London, 12 March - 5 June 2011


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