Watteau, or the Fragmented Mind of a Libertine


I was upstairs, walking the perimeter of Sully when the fire alarm went off. Smoke began to fill le Musée du Louvre…. Mechanically my hands reached out for the picture closest to where I stood. God helped me, for it definitely pushed the limits of what I could carry….  Already barely able to breath, I skipped the endless flights of stairs…. I must have been already in the Court of Marly, but could no longer see anything, and collapsed with the painting still in my hands. Damn, I never knew how fragile they were. For a while I was lying on the steps next to the broken pieces of canvas, then, as the paramedics dragged me to the stretcher, I saw someone, perhaps the museum curator, crawl under the firemen’s hoses, trying to collect the fragments inside their frame.

It is not that Watteau had completely lost his sense of composition, but the presentation to the Academy demanded an effort on a greater scale. Only once during his short painting career did he compromise his art.

Does it matter? We can easily reverse his assembly process and restore each scene to its original frame without ever resorting to scissors. See, The Embarkation to Cythera is one of those paintings where the poetic quality of each individual scene is greater than their ensemble.

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About versaillesgossip, before and after Francis Ponge

The author of the blogs Versailles Gossip and Before and After Francis Ponge, Vadim Bystritski lives and teaches in Brest France. The the three main themes of his literary endeavours are humor, the French Prose Poetry, the French XVII and XVIII Century Art and History. His writings and occasionally art has been published in a number of ezines (Eratio, Out of Nothing, Scars TV, etc). He also contributes to Pinterest where he comments on the artifiacts from the Louvre and other collections. Some of his shorter texts are in Spanish, Russian and French.
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