Mezzetin (1718-1720)
painting 12 of 30 by Jean-Antoine Watteau

Mezzetin, 1718-1720 by Jean-Antoine Watteau

Information about painting

Mezzetin, whose name means “half-measure”, was one of the stock characters of Italian commedia dell'arte. He could be a deceived or a deceiving husband, and could serve his master with devotion or take bribes and betray him.

This representation of Mezzetin in his moment of ardor has the effect of a moving performance on the stage. The statue of a female figure with its back turned may imply the reaction of Mezzetin’s unseen listener.

The painting, usually dated 1718–20, belonged to Watteau’s friend Jean de Jullienne. The artist’s treatment of the silk costume and the garden background influenced Thomas Gainsborough (1727–1788), who knew paintings by Watteau in British collections.