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"Watteau and Words: A Reading of French Poetry" by Philippe de Montebello at The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Thursday, November 19, 2009 at 6:00 P.M.

Philippe de Montebello, Director Emeritus of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and currently the Fiske Kimball Professor in the History of Culture and Museums, Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, returns to the Museum for his first public appearance there since last fall, to offer "Watteau and Words: A Reading of French Poetry" on Thursday, November 19, 2009, at 6:00 p.m. The event will take place in the Museum's Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium in conjunction with Watteau, Music, and Theater, an exhibition presented in honor of Mr. de Montebello, who stepped down from his 31-year directorship of the Museum on December 31, 2008.

Mr. de Montebello will speak about Antoine Watteau's painting Mezzetin of 1718–20 (from the collection of the Metro¬politan Museum) and read poems by writers whom Watteau inspired – notably Théophile Gautier, Albert Samain, Paul Verlaine, and Marcel Proust – along with other works that provide a brief anthology of French poetry from François Villon (1431–ca. 1463) to René Char (1907–1988). As he reads in French, the original texts of the poems and their English translations will be projected on a screen so the audience can follow along.

Tickets to the event, priced at $25, are available by calling 212-570-3949, or may be purchased online at www.metmuseum.org/tickets.

Watteau, Music, and Theater, the first exhibition of paintings by the great early 18th–century French painter and draftsman Jean-Antoine Watteau (1684–1721) to be presented in the United States in 25 years, is currently on view at The Metropolitan Museum of Art through November 29. The exhibition explores the place of music and theater in the work of the artist, comparing the imagery of power associated with the court of the Sun King, Louis XIV, with a more optimistic and mildly subversive imagery of pleasure developed in contemporary opera-ballet and theater. Showing that the painter's utopian vision was influenced directly by these sister arts, it sheds light on a number of Watteau's pictures.

The exhibition is made possible by The Florence Gould Foundation.

It is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.

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October 13, 2009

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