Watteau — Teylers Museum


An exhibition about the work of the 18th century French artist Jean-Antoine Watteau and his French followers

Feb 01, 2017 to May 14, 2017

Exhibition Room


Ground-breaking and one of the most important painters in the history of art, that's Jean-Antoine Watteau (1684-1721). With his poetic scenes full of subtle but significant gestures and glances, he created a new genre of art that was light, airy and elegant. His innovative art marked the beginning of the Rococo movement. Teylers Museum presents in collaboration with the Städel Museum in Frankfurt, the first major exhibition of the artist in the Netherlands, with more than 60 paintings and drawings by Watteau and followers. Watteau can be seen from February 1 until May 14, 2017 in Haarlem. In Frankfurt you can visit the exhibition till January 15, 2017.

New genre

Watteau was a gifted avant-garde artist. His work was nothing like the severe and gloomy classicism from the period of Sun King Louis XIV. Four years before his death, he was young, only 36 years, he was included in the official Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture. When the artist handed his accession painting, it seemed hardly to classify it as a real 'history painting'. Finally it was named fête gallant premeditation, a term that has remained forever linked to Watteau.

True feelings

Hope, excitement, expectation, fun, shyness, love. The work of Watteau is full of emotion. Like no other, the French artist managed to capture the sphere of young people partying or elegant couples. His paintings and drawings resemble scenes from costume films like Dangerous Liaisons, the faces and eyes he drew, still have a modern touch. As if the women just stepped out of Vogue. Watteau showed real feelings, which was groundbreaking at the time. By combining ordinary people with theatrical characters from the commedia dell'arte, he added a symbolic layer and strengthened the displayed emotions.

International cooperation

The exhibition is an international collaboration between Teylers Museum in Haarlem and the Städel Museum in Frankfurt. The collections of the two museums complement each other beautifully. The collections are supplemented by important works from private collections and museums across Europe.

Fashion and more

Clothing and style are important elements in the work of Watteau. The typical 18th century dress with folds on the back was so often portrayed that this type of fold was named after him: the plis Watteau. As part of the exhibition, fashion students from the Amsterdam based Rietveld Academy will make creations inspired by Watteau, which will be shown in different rooms of the museum. In the other rooms presentations adding on to Watteau are being shown. Together, the exhibits show how innovative and influential Watteau was. Lectures, workshops and other events will enlarge the exhibition.


The exhibition is accompanied by a catalog with contributions by internationally renowned Watteau specialist Christoph Martin Vogtherr and the curators of the two museums, Michiel Plomp and Martin Sonnabend.

Thanks to

Ministry of Education, the BankGiro Lottery, the Mondriaan Fund, Fonds21 VSB, Turing Foundation, City of Haarlem, Prince Bernhard Culture / Anthonia Flower Mountain Fund Niemeijers Fund Tavolozza Foundation and Foundation Dorodarte.

During the exhibition Watteau a 2 euros fee is being charged for every adult ticket. Free admission counts for Teylers Museum Friends, members of the Rembrandt Association and pass holders of ICOM and BankGiro Loterij VIP.