The Halt

oil painting of a soldiers and women in a landscape

Jean-Antoine Watteau (1684–1721)
The Halt, ca. 1710
Oil on canvas (originally in oval frame and later extended)
12 5/8 x 16 3/4 in. (32 x 42.5 cm) 
Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid

This tightly packed scene shows soldiers and their hangers-on resting and socializing in a military camp. Various groups are spread out somewhat haphazardly across a stage-like terrain, which is anchored by a towering tree. The composition’s disunity makes the figures stand out individually, focusing our attention on their various interactions as they trade glances across the space of the picture. The poignancy of the painting derives from the way these looks do not seem entirely reciprocated, leaving the status of their relationships unresolved. The Line of March, also in this exhibition, is its likely pendant.

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