Three Studies of a Soldier and a Kneeling Man

three sketches of a soldier and a kneeling man

Jean-Antoine Watteau (1684–1721)
Three Studies of a Soldier and a Kneeling Man, ca. 1710
Red chalk, within brown ink framing lines
4 13/16 × 7 11/16 in. (12.2 x 19.5 cm)
École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts, Paris

Watteau used the figures in this drawing in two other works in the exhibition: the two central figures appear, in reverse order, in Halt of a Detachment, and all four figures appear in The Halt. Though the three figures on the right were likely based on the same model, the way Watteau disposes the men on the page is suggestive, especially the exchange of glances between the kneeling man and the seated soldier with a musket. Yet, in deploying them in his paintings, the artist shuffled all but two of the figures, breaking some apart and placing others together in new relationships. This juxtaposition and recombination of independent elements on the canvas create the ambiguous interactions that make his military paintings so captivating.

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