Mezzetin, painted by Jean-Antoine Watteau between 1717-1720, is an oil on canvas painting that depicts the titular character from commedia dell’arte in a full-length single-figure composition. Mezzetin was a stock character of the genre who frequently pursued unrequited love. In this painting, he is depicted against a blue background with yellow drapes cascading over his left arm while holding a guitar in his right hand. The bright pink and light blue hues used for his costume add to the whimsical nature of the painting and reflect influences from Rubens and the opéra ballet.
Jean-Antoine Watteau was known for his depictions of fetes galantes, theater, and ballet scenes that revitalized interest in color and movement during the Baroque era. His career played an integral role in shaping Rococo art. In Mezzetin, one can see his attention to detail through the intricate folds of Mezzetin’s outfit and how it contrasts with the simplistic background.
Currently owned by New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, Mezzetin serves as an excellent example of how art can convey emotions without being too explicit. It captures both joy and melancholy simultaneously- joy through its bright colors and melancholy through Mezzetin’s downward gazing eyes. Watteau’s use of lighting also adds depth to this piece by directing attention towards certain areas such as Mezzetin’s face or musician instruments.
Overall, Jean-Antoine Watteau’s painting Mezzetin remains a delightful masterpiece up till today that reflects Rococo aesthetics while illustrating Italian opera traditions at their finest.