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Painting Title Le Défile (The Line of March)
Ofl Title Le Défile
Collection York Art Gallery
Artist Watteau, Jean-Antoine (French painter and draftsman, 1684-1721)
Date Earliest 1710
Date Latest 1711

A party of foot soldiers, with two mounted officers approach a battle, set in the middle distance on a plain. Despite previous doubts, it seems that YORAG : 762 is an original early Watteau, but has suffered from careless cleaning in the past. The painting used to be paired with another, entitled L'Alte, in the Museo Thyssen Bornemisza, Museo del Prado, Madrid (Inv. 431 [1975.51]). Watteau's military subjects date from the early part of his career; L'Alte and Le Defilé' were most likely painted in Valenciennes. Recently it has been discovered that Watteau did not leave for Valenciennes until 1710, not 1709 as previously believed. G. Glorieux (2011) proposed that L'Alte, Le Défilé and the so-called Porte de Valenciennes (Frick Collection, New York (1991.1.173)) formed a series of oval paintings that originally were inserted in the boiserie of a small room and were painted at the end of 1710 or at the beginning of 1711.

Current Accession Number YORAG : 762
Subject landscape; figure; military; animal (horse)
Measurements 32.3 x 43.1 cm
Material oil on canvas
Acquisition Details Given by F.D. Lycett Green through the National Art Collections Fund 1955.
Provenance Jean de Jullienne (1686-1766, Paris, art dealer and close friend of Watteau) before 1756; Louis François de Bourbon, prince de Conti sale, Paris, 1777, lot 665, purchased by Augustin Ménageot, 665 livres; Ménageot sale, Paris, 17 March 1778, lot 107, purchased by M. Dubois, 920 livres; Dubois sale in Paris, 31 March 31-5 April 1784, lot 78, for 723 livres, perhaps purchased by Grenier, and/or Dubois sale December 1785, lot 79, for 510 livres,; Sir John Lambert, sale, Paris, March 1787 (its pendant sold separately); Spiller, from whom purchased by F. D. Lycett Green 1927.
Principal Exhibitions F.D. Lycett Green Gift, York City Art Gallery, 1955, no. 37; Heritage de France : French painting 1610-1760, Museum of Fine Arts, Montreal (touring), 1961-62, no. 82; The French taste in English painting during the first half of the 18th century, Kenwood House, London, 1968, no. 13; Watteau, National Gallery of Art, Washington, Grand Palais, Paris, Schloss Charlottenburg, Berlin, 1984-85, no. 18; The Noble Horse Exhibition, Metropolitan Teien Art Museum, Tokyo, 1998, no. 8; Esprit et Vérité: Watteau and His Circle, The Wallace Collection, London 2011.
Publications Goncourt, E., Catalogue raisonné de l'oeuvre peint, dessiné et gravé d'Antoine Watteau, Paris, 1875, cat. 58; Mathey, J., Antoine Watteau: Peintures Reapparues, Paris, 1959, cat. 117, pp. 47, 67 and 78 (as location unknown, formely Lycett Green); PREVIEW. City of York Art Gallery Quarterly, 50, April 1960, vol. XIII, pp. 480-486; York Art Gallery Catalogue - Catalogue of Paintings, Vol. I: Foreign Schools 1350-1800, City of York Art Gallery, York, 1961, pp. 106-107, pl. 90; Camesasca, E., The Complete Paintings of Watteau, 1971, cat. 41 p. 97 (as Lycett Green collection and doubting attribution to Watteau); Ferre, J., Watteau, Madrid 1972, vol. 3, cat. B5, as copy after lost original; Catalogue Supplement 1974: Amendments and Additions to Catalogue Volumes I and II, City of York Art Gallery, York, 1975, pp. 14-15; Banks, O.T., Watteau and the North: Studies in the Dutch and Flemish Baroque Influence on French Rococo Painting, New York, 1977, pp. 146-148; Grasselli, M.M., Rosenberg, P., et al., Watteau, 1684-1721, Washington 1984, cat. 4, pp. 250-252; Börsch-Supan, H., Watteau. Führer zur Austellung im Schloss Charlottenburg, Berlin, 1985, cat. 18, pp. 25-26; Munhall, E., ‘Notes on Watteau's “Portal of Valenciennes”', The Burlington Magazine, CXXXIV, January 1992, pp. 4-11; Börsch-Supan, H., Antoine Watteau, 1684-1721, Köln, 2000, p. 43, ill. 35; Oil Paintings in Public Ownership. North Yorkshire, London, 2006, p. 357; Vogtherr, C.M., Watteau at the Wallace Collection, London 2011, p. 33, fig. 14; Glorieux, G., Watteau, Paris, 2011, p. 87.

Goncourt (1875) mentioned three drawings made for or from YORAG : 762 ( his cat. nos. 456, 485 and 667); they probably became a source of inspiration for the engravings by Boucher (Pierrette J.-R., L'oeuvre gravé de François Boucher dans la Collection Edmond de Rothschild, Paris, 1978, cat. no. 74, 81 and 113). Other recorded versions of Le Défile are: reduced copy, called 'Casanova', sold St. Rémy, 1878; Encampment, exhibited at Burlington House, 1891 (no. 47), formerly in collection of Miss James; and Camp by J.B. Verhussen, painted in 1726.

YORAG : 762 has been relined; the original measurements were approximately 32.3 x 40.6 cm. The painting was engraved in rectangular format by Jean Moyreau in 1730.

Francis Denis Lycett Green (1893-1959) was a member of the wealthy industrial Green family from Wakefield that was among the great philanthropic benefactors of York. He began buying pictures during the 1920s, advised by some of the most famous art historians of the day. By the 1940s, he owned examples from almost every school and period of European Art – a comprehensive collection of over 130 paintings dating back from the early 14th century to the end of the 18th century, representing every important European school of art. In 1952, he offered it to the National Gallery of South Africa, having moved to Cape Town in the hope that the climate would improve his health (which was poor because he was badly injured in the First World War). However when a dispute arose with the Cape Town Gallery, Francis withdrew his pictures in protest and shipped them back to England. The entire collection of 130 pictures was at first on loan to the York Art Gallery and in the spring of 1955 he decided to give it to the Gallery.

Rights Owner York Museums Trust (York Art Gallery)
Author Dr Magdalena Łanuszka



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