The Prospect

Accession Number

The Prospect

Louis Crépy

Object Creation Date

Medium & Support
etching and engraving on paper

26 1/16 in x 32 1/16 in (66.2 cm x 81.44 cm);17 1/4 in x 22 1/16 in (43.82 cm x 56.04 cm);12 5/16 in x 16 1/8 in (31.27 cm x 40.96 cm)

Credit Line
Museum Purchase

Label copy
Based on a painting by Watteau, The Perspective, in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, this etching captures the mood of reverie—and even of melancholy— that so pervaded Watteau’s paintings. The scene, thought to be set in the park of Pierre Crozat’s estate at Montmorency, shows elegantly attired figures engaged in music-making, conversation and romance, a pictorial convention known as the fête galante. The towering trees, through which we glimpse the façade of the mansion, act almost as a theatrical backdrop or foil for the intimacy of the groupings of figures as they converse in this lush setting.
Watteau’s paintings executed at the beginning of the eighteenth century were tremendously influential. He was also a superb and prolific draftsman, conveying the utmost of delicacy and sentiment in his chalk drawings through the most economical means. Although Watteau did not execute many prints, he did experiment with etching. His luminous, shimmering paint surfaces were better conveyed through the irregular and broken lines of etching rather than the less compromising and less ambiguous lines produced by the engraver’s burin. As with the present image by Louis Crépy, the most successful reproductions of Watteau’s paintings were realized in etching, the medium used by Watteau himself.
Shortly after his death, Watteau’s work was compiled by Jean de Julienne into an illustrated catalogue of etchings reproducing his paintings and drawings, working whenever possible from the original borrowed for this purpose. More than 600 etched plates were reproduced in the Recueil Julienne, representing the work of almost forty engravers, including many of the leading artists of their day. Because of their involvement in this vast project, the example of Watteau’s work was instrumental in forming the aesthetic of the generation of printmakers who came of age during this project.
Exhibition label copy from "Eighteenth Century French Prints and Drawings," February 1 - May 4, 2003 by Curator Carole McNamara

Primary Object Classification

Primary Object Type
intaglio print

Collection Area

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Musical instruments

1 Related Resource

Early Modern European Court Life
(Part of 8 Learning Collections)

& Author Notes

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