Artist: Antoine Watteau (French, Valenciennes 1684–1721 Nogent-sur-Marne)
Date: ca. 1715–16
Medium: Etching with drypoint
Dimensions: 8 7/8 x 13 7/16 in. (22.6 x 34.2 cm)
Credit Line: Purchase, Gift of Dr. Mortimer Sackler, Theresa Sackler and Family, and The Elisha Whittelsey Collection, The Elisha Whittelsey Fund, 2006
Accession Number: 2006.43
Watteau, considered the greatest painter of the Rococo period, made only a small number of etchings, each of which supplied a professional printmaker with a design to be reworked in engraving. In this rare impression of the first state, we can appreciate the elegant, flickering lines of Watteau, before they were overworked with a burin by an engraver. The soldiers, on their way to join their regiment, evoke a sense of weariness as they trudge through a landscape, but at the same time, their poses and placement are imbued with a balletic grace.