Although Watteau’s immediate influences were French decorative painters like Claude Gillot and Claude Audran, his real influences were the Venetian poésie of Giorgione (ca. 1477/78–1510), Titian (1488/90–1576) and Paolo Veronese (1528–1588) as well as the mythologies of Peter Paul Rubens (1577–1640). Watteau’s earliest paintings are of military subjects such as La Porte de Valenciennes (Frick Collection, New York), which depicted French soldiers at rest or on the march. As with nearly all Watteau’s works, they are executed on a small scale and focus on the human dimension: the boredom of the soldiers, their camaraderie, smoking and drinking and playing with camp followers or dogs.
Books on Watteau
Katharine Baeijer, ed., Watteau, Music and Theater, exh. cat., New York, 2009
Jed Perl, Antoine’s Alphabet: Watteau and His World, New York, 2008.
Meg Morgan Grasselli and Pierre Rosenberg, Watteau 1684-1721, exh, cat. Paris, 1984.
Marianne Roland-Michel, Watteau: an Artist of the Eighteenth Century, London, 1984.
Ettore Camseca and Pierre Rosenberg, Tout l’œuvre peint de Watteau, Paris, 1968, revised 1982.
Edmond de Goncourt, Catalogue raisonné de l’oeuvre peint, dessiné et gravé d’Antoine Watteau, Paris, 1875.