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The Country Dance
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More about The Country Dance

mnicer's picture

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When you look up the word “Rococo,” it’s very likely one of Jean Antoine-Watteau’s pieces will be on display, either online or in person.  

He was the sugary movement’s foremost artist and draftsman. Of all of them, this piece is Watteau’s earliest known work.

Watteau specialized in fete galantes, French for “courtship party.”  Nobles would be depicted as they are at a social function, but instead of the ornate halls of Versailles, they would be dancing and cavorting under trees and over riverbanks.  However, The County Dance is an example of the original predecessor to the fete galantes, the fete champetre, or “rural festival.” Watteau wanted to throw a shoutout to previous Flemish artists that also depicted rural scenes such as Peter Paul Rubens and David Teniers, so his figures here are lower on the social ladder than in later works.  However, the peasants here, instead of being rowdy and boisterous, have the careful composure of wealthy nobles.  It’s like you’re looking at the artistic equivalent of a gentrified neighborhood!

Before the Indianapolis Museum of Art got its hands on the Watteau piece, it belonged to a certain Ellnora Krannert, wife of Herman C. Krannert.  The couple were co-founders of the Inland Container Corporation, one of the largest corrugated shipping container manufacturers on Earth.  What that basically means is this: they’re a big part of the reason why your products from Amazon come to you in one piece.  In 1984, they underwent a merger and were reborn as Temple-Inland, Co. and in 1992, accounted for eight percent of U.S. production in their respective market.  They were both heads of a foundation that funded creative departments in Indiana University, Purdue University, the University of Illinois, and Berry College.  She died on July 8th, 1974.  Betcha she had the painting shipped to the museum in one of her company’s boxes.











 

Sources

Sources

  1. "Fetê Galante." The National Gallery. Accessed February 28, 2019. https://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/glossary/fête-galante.
  2. "Inland Container Corporation." History of Franklin Covey Company – FundingUniverse. Accessed February 28, 2019. http://www.fundinguniverse.com/company-histories/inland-container-corpor....
  3. "Mrs. Herman C. Krannert, Philanthropist, 84, Is Dead." The New York Times. July 08, 1974. Accessed February 28, 2019. https://www.nytimes.com/1974/07/08/archives/mrs-herman-c-krannert-philan....
  4. "Fête Champêtre." Encyclopædia Britannica. July 26, 2015. Accessed February 28, 2019. https://www.britannica.com/art/fete-champetre-painting#ref245114.

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Here is what Wikipedia says about The Country Dance

The Country Dance is an oil painting by French artist Jean-Antoine Watteau, located in the Indianapolis Museum of Art, which is in Indianapolis, Indiana. Probably one of Watteau's earliest painting, created roughly 1706-1710, it depicts a group of quite courtly peasants dancing among the trees.

Description

Amid the trees, a group of villagers play music while a couple dances. A toddler copies the lady's motions, entertaining the company. Rather than the usual contemporary association with debauchery, music here alludes to social harmony and order. The musicians glance coyly at the viewer, actors very aware of their spectators. This sort of interaction is one of Watteau's hallmarks.

It is an image of visual extremes: the dark forest background brings the peasants' bright clothing into sharp contrast. The rustic setting and the dancers' formal attire channel both the fête galante and a formal court celebration transplanted to a charming bit of countryside.

Check out the full Wikipedia article about The Country Dance.