The painting “Les Charmes De La Vie” (or “The Attractions of Life”) is a stunning visual representation of the merging of contemporary and classical music by eighteenth century French artist Jean-Antoine Watteau. Located in London at the Wallace Collection, this oil on canvas masterpiece is 67 x 93cm in size. This piece was composed between 1717-1719, making it over 2 centuries old.
This captivating work showcases a gentleman tuning a large lute while seated on a stool and surrounded by stylish companions. The curves of the lute and its positioning create a jovial atmosphere, reinforcing Watteau’s renowned Rococo style style. The central figure’s lute, which brings disparate musical worlds together, could be seen to exemplify Watteau’s theme of harmony between two cultures – that of antiquity and modernity.
Further examples of Watteau’s oeuvre include “Le Faux Pas” (1719), which also explores the tension between traditional culture and modernity during the era. The clash between these two cultures is illustrated throughout Watteau’s entire body of artwork in his compositional choices as well as artistic elements like light and colouring.