R.A.H. (againstathorn) wrote,

December Double: Johann Baptist Wengler & Jean-Antoine Watteau

Johann Baptist Wengler - Dance in the Tavern (1844)

Jean-Antoine Watteau - Real Joy (n.d.)

Today I would like to share two excellent works which illustrate the pleasure of dancing with a partner, sharing positive energy between one another and relishing the moment for all it's worth. 'Dance in the Tavern' by Austrian painter Johann Baptist Wengler and 'Real Joy' by French painter Jean-Antoine Watteau both capture their subjects in movement, feeling the rhythm of the music while creating a merry spectacle for others to enjoy, even if they don't have the full attention of other's within their respective scenes.

Obviously most of the barflies in 'Tavern' are indifferent to the dancing couple, and even the fiddle player seems more engaged in conversation with his friend than with providing music. At least everyone in the back areas seems in jolly spirit. However, the same cannot be said for the somber young man sitting alone in the table, watching the two dancers with worried eyes. I wonder if he's related to or already acquainted with either of the two dancers. Perhaps he's even the third wheel of their group. Observing their clothes, I find myself looking for clues which might indicate who arrived with whom and so forth, and I would be urged to say that the dancers are a couple. I also note the plate and beer stein resting on bench in the lower left section of the painting, and that mop looks to be in a very questionable spot--primed to knock over the jug on the floor. Maybe all or some items belong to either one of the two dancers? Who knows.

At any rate, the man sitting by himself seems in a woebegone state, and on the wall behind him one can observe a crude drawing of couple kissing, further solidifying his position alone in an otherwise social environment. Poor guy. At least the dancers are having a good time.

Watteau's painting thankfully spares us a languishing spectator for his scene, and I can't help note how artist's delicate use of line and color elevates the subject matter; All the elements within 'Real Joy' are harmonious, as the movement of these dancers is complimented by the Watteau's wonderful rendering of the surrounding foliage and the clouds. As a visual experience, this painting flows like a piece of music. I also like how the fiddle player has his back to us, providing more dimension to the scene.
Tags: december double
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