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Print - Harlequin, Pierrot et Scapin
  • Harlequin, Pierrot et Scapin
    Watteau, Jean-Antoine, born 1684 - died 1721
  • Enlarge image

Harlequin, Pierrot et Scapin

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Paris (made)

  • Date:

    1719 (dated)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Watteau, Jean-Antoine, born 1684 - died 1721 (painter)
    Surugue, Louis, born 1686 - died 1762 (printmaker)

  • Materials and Techniques:


  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Europe 1600-1815, Room 2a, case CA1

This etching is one of ten made by the printmaker Louis Surugue after paintings by Jean-Antoine Watteau. Watteau painted a number of theatrical subjects and also used them as part of his larger compositions of gatherings called 'fêtes galantes'. The text below this etching focusses on the character Crispin's flirtation with the young lady and suggests that theatre, though comedy, often reflects life.

Commedia dell'arte was an Italian form of improvised comedy, interspersed with musical and acrobatic routines, performed by troupes of travelling performers from the middle of the 16th century. It became popular throughout Europe and in royal courts, especially in France, and influenced other dramatic forms.

Costumes of the commedia dell'arte characters would be instantly recognisable to viewers based on the social status suggested by the costume of the non-masked characters, such as the lovers (innamorati), around whom the stories often revolved, and the coloured leather masks, costume, props and gestures of the stock comic characters. The Harlequin, recognisable by his contrasting, two-colour costume and black mask, was one of the scheming servants (zanni). Pierrot is a variant of the melancholic character Pedrolino, who wore white and a whitened face. Scapino is a variant of the character Brighella.

The painting after which this etching was made was owned by Sir Joshua Reynolds and is now in the Waddeson Collection.

Physical description

Image showing Pierrot, Harlequin and other commedia dell'arte characters standing in front of a stage curtain. Pierrot stands to the left next to a sculpture. To his right in front of the curtain, are, from left to right, Harlequin in an animated pose with hands on hip and cap, wearing a black mask; next, a young lady identified in the verse as Silvie playing the guitar and sitting in profile facing right, but looking over her right shoulder roughly at a point to the right of the viewer; sitting next to her Crispin, with his face leaning in towards hers, a portly figure wearing black buttoned coat with white collar and black rimmed hat. He has a sword. Behind the front four figures, visible between Harlequin and Silvie, another capped and masked character, Scapin, looks out over them from behind the curtain. Below the image are eight lines of French verse in two columns.

Place of Origin

Paris (made)


1719 (dated)


Watteau, Jean-Antoine, born 1684 - died 1721 (painter)
Surugue, Louis, born 1686 - died 1762 (printmaker)

Materials and Techniques


Marks and inscriptions

Wateaux pinxit
Left below image

L. Surugue Sculp. 1719
Right below image

Arlequin, Pierrot et Scapin / En dançant ont L'Ame rauie, / Pendant que le fourbe Crispin / En conte á la jeune siluie / Ce que t'offre ici le pinceau, / Quoique pris de la Comedie, / N'est que trop souvent le tableau / De ce qui se passe en la vie.
Eight lines of verse in French in two columns, below image

[large watermark: IHS in roundel, with wide H, surmounted by cross]
central right

Se vent a Paris chez Sirois sur le Quai Neuf aux Arries. de Frances. A.P.R
Bottom centre of sheet below image


Height: 227 mm trimmed to, Width: 237 mm trimmed to

Object history note

Purchase from R. Jackson 1889.

This one of the ten engravings after paintings by Watteau that were published by Sirois between 1717-26. The plates were bought afte his death by François Chéreau in about 1726-1728, who substituted the address below the print for his own (see refs, Glorieux).

Descriptive line

Etching, Harlequin, Pierrot et Scapin, etched by Surugue after a painting by Watteau; French, 1719.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Glorieux, Guillaume. À l'enseigne de Gersaint. Edme-François Gersaint, marchand d'art sur le pont Notre-Dame (1694-1750). Seyssel, Champ Vallon, 2002, p. 183.


Paper; Printing ink



Subjects depicted

Sword; Masks; Herm; Commedia; Roses


Prints; Entertainment & Leisure


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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