The Old Savoyard

Chalk drawing with red and black shading of man carrying crate and pack.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • Chalk drawing with red and black shading of man carrying crate and pack.

Date:

c. 1715

Artist:

Jean-Antoine Watteau
French, 1684-1721

About this artwork

The Flemish-born artist Jean-Antoine Watteau deviated from his acclaimed scenes of courtly figures in park-like settings (called fêtes galantes) with this arresting and naturalistic chalk drawing of a humble Savoyard. This elderly vagabond from the Savoy region of France was one of many peasants who, around the turn of the eighteenth century, flocked to Paris, where they tried to eke out livings as chimney sweeps, scavengers, or street entertainers. This old entertainer’s props accompany him: a large box of curiosities is on his back, and under his arm is a smaller case probably containing his constant companion and coperformer, a furry marmot. Using only two colors of chalk, Watteau depicted the Savoyard’s shrewd, humorous face, his tattered clothing, and his bulky paraphernalia with remarkable precision, sensitivity, and humanity. Of the ten extant studies of Savoyards by Watteau, four appear to portray the same salty character seen here. The drawing’s broad, free execution points to the accomplished late works of this gifted artist.

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Prints and Drawings

Artist

Jean Antoine Watteau

Title

The Old Savoyard

Origin

France

Date

1710–1720

Medium

Red and black chalk, with stumping, on buff laid paper, laid down on cream wove card, laid down on cream board

Dimensions

359 × 221 mm

Credit Line

Helen Regenstein Collection

Reference Number

1964.74

Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email .

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