French Rococo Painter
Education -studied with Claude Gillot.
Cause of Death -(White Plague) Tuberculosis
Watteau himself was a misshapen, ugly, embittered man. From the time he was a young boy he had received brutal beatings from his drunken father. His nose had been broken countless times and was permanently misshapen, his left ear and been pulled so hard it drooped in an unsightly and odd way. He was also suffered horrific burns to his face when his mother had thrown a boiling pot of water at his father but instead hitting the young Watteau. An incurable malady (Tuberculosis) had made him timid and unsociable. He is described by his biographers as sad and fearful, suspicious and awkward in company, and his portraits confirm this description. His eyes are empty and expressionless as those of a sparrow hawk; his hands are red and bony, and his mouth is drooping. In the portrait in which he is represented without a wig, it seems to mock his own ugliness and sickness. The hair is tangled and disordered, the clothes droop about low shoulders and a small chest. Though surrounded by riches, beauty, coquetry, and elegance, he, the consumptive, had no part of this charmed world.
After his return to Paris he painted a sign for his friend the art dealer Gersaint, an ethereal picture which only a consumptive could have created: without substance, the grey rose colors as if breathed upon the wood; the emaciated figures relieved of all that is fleshly; a breath, a nothing. Then he retired to Nogent-sur-Marne. He began an altarpiece which he wished to donate to the church, a Crucifixion of Christ, with an expression of pain which only one sick unto death could give. He died on the 18th of July, 1721, at thirty-six years of age."
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