Date of Award

Spring 5-5-2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Art & Art History

First Advisor

Tara Zanardi

Second Advisor

Susanna Cole

Academic Program Adviser

Lynda klich


This thesis reexamines the work of Antoine Watteau through a social-art historical lens. Traditionally, Watteau's fêtes galantes have been closely aligned to the culture of the French nobility. However, a closer look into the artist's background, training, social milieu, and the class identity of his primary buyers reveals an alternative class alignment, inviting new interpretations for Watteau's most elusive work. This thesis challenges the close association between Watteau and the French nobility and aims to broaden the socio-visual landscape from which Watteau was drawing, namely that of a burgeoning bourgeois consumer culture. In particular, the culture of emulation, with its confusion of social signifiers and visual advertisements of the early 18th century geared toward eliciting desire and fantasy, are taken as critical sources for Watteau's enigmatic painterly style.



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