Antoine Watteau: Gilles

The so-called Gilles (1718/19) is maybe the best known painting by Jean-Antoine Watteau. It shows an Italian actor in the costume of Pierrot, a sad clown in love with Columbine, who usually breaks his heart and leaves him for Harlequin. Interesting enough, the character of Pierrot is of French origin, going back to the character of the same name in Molière’s Don Juan. The name Gilles, under which the painting was long known, comes from a French burlesque character, Gilles le Niais.

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