Born in France in 1684, Jean-Antoine Watteau only lived to be 36 years old, but he is considered to have had a tremendous impact on the artistic world. In 1704, he became the assistant of Claude Gillot, a set designer, and later studied under Clause Audran III, a designer of interior decoration. Fusing what he learned from the two together, Watteau developed a style that incorporated theatrical subjects with an airy and ornate style. His style was also greatly influenced by his attraction to the Rococo design.
Although his training was unorthodox, he wanted to be accepted to the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture. After not being accepted in 1709, he tried again in 1712 with his piece Embarkation for Cythera (1717) and was admitted under his own genre, “fete gallants” which translates to grand themes. Many of his paintings focused on humans in nature and included brilliantly colored landscapes. Some critics questioned his stylistic capability because he drew in straight, tight lines and couldn’t paint figures at differing depths. However, he is still considered an inspiration to many artists who came after him.
Watteau was also considered a brilliant draftsman and developed the talent of using a three chalk technique that is best seen in Seated Woman (1717).