Cover image for The age of Watteau, Chardin, and Fragonard : masterpieces of French genre painting
The age of Watteau, Chardin, and Fragonard : masterpieces of French genre painting
Bailey, Colin B.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New Haven [Conn.] : Yale University Press in association with the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, 2003.
Physical Description:
412 pages : illustrations (some color) ; 31 cm
General Note:
Published in conjunction with an exhibition held at the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, June 6-Sept. 7, 2003, the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., Oct. 12, 2003-Jan. 11, 2004, and the Staatliche Museum zu Berlin, Gemäldegalerie, Feb. 8-May 9, 2004.

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
ND1452.F84 A44 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area-Oversize

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A comprehensive survey of French genre painting of the 18th century, from Watteau's fetes galantes to Boilly's paintings of modern Parisian life. Showcasing 113 works, the volume illustrates the variety and the vitality of genre painting throughout the period. Leading English, German, French and American scholars shed light on the development of genre painting, its interpretation, its collectors and its enormous appeal.

Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

In the period before the French Revolution, the grands sujets of history and myth dwarfed the emerging genre of paintings of everyday life, including "animals and fruits," garden parties, morning toilettes, kitchen duties and family scenes. Yet for reasons evidenced in the 230 color and 60 b&w illustrations of this lavish catalogue, that latter genre enjoyed a huge popularity among collectors and art connoisseurs, including Diderot, and foreshadowed the modern developments in art to come less than a century later. Essays establishing the historical context of genre painting will surely be of interest to scholars of the period, but verge on numbing for lay readers. The label copy in the latter half of the book is much more engaging, offering detailed insight into each painting in this travelling exhibition (which will be at Washington D.C.'s National Gallery of Art this fall). In particular, the writing on Chardin, with quotes from his contemporaries generously interspersed, reveals just how original this painter was-and how controversial. But the book's reproductions-in deep, sharp, full-page majesty-generate more than enough interest in themselves. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

In this first complete survey of 18th-century French genre painting, Bailey (chief curator, Frick Collection, New York; Patriotic Taste) and a team of scholars highlight the master artists of the period, including Antoine Watteau, Jean-Baptiste-Simeon Chardin, Nicolas Lancret, Jean-Honor? Fragonard, and Jean-Baptiste Greuze, in 113 beautiful reproductions. French genre painting, which features pastorals, domestic life, boudoir paintings, and military scenes, flourished within the hierarchical system of the French academy. Though not as highly regarded as history painting, it was certainly prized and collected by numerous aristocrats and nobles of the era, including Frederick II of Prussia and the Duc de Choiseul. The book also shows how the boundaries among genre painting and history painting and portraiture were being crossed at this time, as sentimental and private feelings were appearing in these more lofty subjects. Published to accompany a fall/winter exhibition at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC (first shown at the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, and later traveling to the Gem?ldegalerie, Berlin), this thorough and scholarly book is recommended for academic art history collections.-Sandra Rothenberg, Framingham State Coll. Lib., MA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Despite its lowly status compared to history and portraiture, genre painting--the depiction of everyday subjects--has always been recognized as an important aspect of French 18th-century art: it is in the art of Chardin, Greuze, and Vien that reforming critics of the ancien regime found models of "truth" and "virtue" to hold up to the "decadent" rococo exuberances of Boucher and Fragonard, which were to culminate in the spartan neoclassical essays of David--or so say the orthodox histories. The six essays in this catalog of a recent exhibition revise and complicate this reading significantly. Only four essays are indicated here. Bailey expands the definition of genre, points out that nearly all artists painted it, and sees its popularity as a reflection of middle- and upper-class idealization of leisure and domesticity. Barbara Gaehtgens usefully discusses the popularity of genre in a Pan-European context (Lairesse, Hogarth). Martin Schieder argues that in practice the categories of painting were fluid, that even history and portrait painting increasingly emphasized natural depiction and quotidian narrative. Thomas Gaehtgens addresses the social phenomenon of aristocratic patronage of this seemingly declasse subject. In all, the best study of the subject available. ^BSumming Up: Highly recommended. General readers; lower-division undergraduates through faculty. L. R. Matteson University of Southern California