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The Capricious Girl

Painting, 1718, 42×34 cm

Description of the artwork «The Capricious Girl»

The poet Charles Baudelaire claimed that the most valuable thing in the art of Watteau – his capricious, self-willed, but infinitely elegant women. "Kapriznee" from the collection of the Hermitage is definitely one of them.

In the center of the composition, with a slight offset to the left, sits a comely lady in a flowing black dress. Behind her playfully reclines gentleman in a red beret with a feather and obviously flirts with a girl. But her hard-line posture and the obvious displeasure on her face testify that the fan is too Intrusive and to give in to his pressure character is not located. In any case, now.

Flirting and courtship displays of chivalry – is generally the Central theme of Rococo. And that Watteau put the beginning of their "gallant festivities". "Kapriznee" also belongs to this genre. Well-dressed heroes apparently took part in some entertainment, but now withdrew from society to clarify the relationship alone. However, unlike the absolute majority of the subjects of the "gallant festivals", where the courtship are committed to full mutual pleasure, "Kapriznee" demonstrates an interesting psychological reversal – female irritation from the obsessive attention. Turning back to his companion, the heroine shows a high degree of reactivate. She shows that it refers to the counterpart without any respect.

A dreamy look of Caprinica looking into the distance. Some even speculate on a certain other gentleman, whom she would prefer to see.

Watteau loved to mix reality and theatre friends to dress up in theatrical costumes, which he collected, and to draw them. He liked the idea of the game, blending illusion and reality, liked to draw from this mutual penetration of the unexpected psychological effects. All this is in the "Kapriznee". It is difficult to escape the thought that the heroine feels on stage, in front of a full auditorium that she too was concerned with how it looks. This experience accompanies even the landscape, dutifully playing the role of the scenes.

"Kapriznee" is something for which Watteau value the most – a kind of deliberate understatement. Enigmatic ordinariness. Interpretation of the meaning of the picture seemed to be lying on the surface and at the same time causes difficulties eludes final understanding. Precisely because of this quality Watteau subsequently above all other artists will appreciate the symbolists. Maybe Caprinica does not reject courtship, but rather listens to excuses and accepts apologies? Maybe it's not the beginning of a relationship, and their ends or obvious crisis? Maybe something caused the jealousy of the heroine and the hero (lover?) forced to make excuses?

Anyway, Watteau appears before us a master of the subtle and intricate psychological pattern. It is in the attention to the personality and nuances of the experiences of the heroine lies the value of the picture. Well-known art critic Mikhail Alpatov wrote that to understand it is to compare "Kapriznee" with the works of one of the Dutch XVII century: Watteau "mostly not nice things, not shiny like many of the Dutch, and the character and facial expressions of people".

But the Dutch masters of the Watteau in fact very valued and much they have learned. The researchers gently reproach the artist for intentional or unintentional borrowing, they say, and the outfits he painfully a La Frans Hals. And a red beret character "Caprinica" - and does charged the Rembrandt. And yet it is impossible not to admit that the dress of the heroine is in itself a small masterpiece with an endless variety of color transitions, which only conditionally can be called black.

Author: Anna Yesterday
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About the artwork

Art form: Painting

Subject and objects: Genre scene

Style of art: Rococo

Technique: Oil

Materials: Canvas

Date of creation: 1718

Size: 42×34 cm

Artwork in selections: 24 selections