The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
Les Champs Elisées
  • Antoine Watteau (1684 - 1721)
  • Les Champs Elisées
  • France
  • c. 1720 - 1721
  • Painting
  • Oil on walnut panel
  • Image size: 31.2 x 41 cm
    Made up to, Image size: 33.1 x 42.6 cm
  • Inscription: C: de B yellow
  • P389
  • Small Drawing Room
Further Reading
  • The painting is one of Watteau's greatest masterworks, a perfect examples of his Fêtes galantes - pastorals (idealised visions of life in the country side) that were not set in a distant past but in a contemporary French environment. "Les Champs Elisées" is set in a beautiful landscape with a village in the background. The fountain on the right evokes parkland, although actual parks would still have been in a French more formnal style at the time. The utopian ideal of carefree country-life is seasoned with irony. The standing man on the right is watching the four reclining women, the sculpture of the naked woman reveals his actuals thoughts, as a thought bubble in a comic strip would.
    The painting is a smaller version of the "Fête galante in a wooded landscape" (P391). It was probably the later version of the composition: The sketchy background figures seem to be based on the more detailed, larger work, and the style of the small painting would be later in Watteau's career. "Les Champs Elisées" became the model for an print by Nicolas-Henri Tardieu in 1727 engraved for the famous collector and businessman Jean de Jullienne. Jullienne usually had the smaller version of similar compositions engraved because they were more convenient models for the engraver.