Jean-Antoine Watteau’s Pierrot is of famous clown Pierrot in the 17th century. Originally known simply as ‘Gilles’ – the generic term for ‘clown’ in French, recent research has identified that the character in the picture is in fact of Pierrot.
Pierrot is a fictional character that was popular in the late 17th century and featured in stage shows, particularly comedy and musicals, particularly in France and Italy. He is often set alongside other mainstream fictional characters Columbine and Harlequin.
Painted late in Watteau’s short career in 1720, the piece was likely used as an advertisement for a show in France. The clown featured can also be found in other paintings by Jean-Antoine Watteau such as ‘the Italian Comedians and ‘The Italian Actors’.
Pierrot is captured in other works in art history including Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s The White Pierrot and Amedeo Modigliani’s Self-Portrait as Pierrot.
Jean-Antoine Watteau’s Pierrot can be found in the Louvre in Paris, France.