Fête Champêtre by Watteau
FROM Murillo to Watteau; from the fervent unrealities which were the solace of the rulers of decaying empire, to the triumphant, light-hearted pageantry of make-believe of a court too blinded by wealth to care where wealth derived from or to think where play might lead. From Spain to France. How devastatingly does art betray its time and place, and the minds and moods and circumstances of its sponsors:
The world's a theater, the earth a stage,
Which God and nature do with actors fill.
The wise have known this. The French court, lacking wisdom, built for itself a theater within that larger theater, the world. And little guessing to what role in the larger drama their own acts predestined them, played on. Watteau was perhaps no wiser than the court he served, but he had eyes. And with the compelling realism of great art, he gave us in "Fête Champêtre" just what the French court was: life once too much removed.