The Scale of Love

The painting was one of those, engraved by Le Bas, included in the publication of Watteau's work which the artist's friend and patron Jean de Julienne published in 1736. It appeared there with the title 'La Gamme d'Amour'. Drawings for the figure of the girl survive and are in the British Museum.

The main focus of the composition lies in the relationship of the guitar player in his brightly coloured theatrical costume and the girl seated at his feet.

The design enhances this relationship, with the diagonal separating the figures crossed by another extending from the feet of the girl to the top of the guitar, guitar and music book overlapping in the centre.

A marble bust of a bearded philosopher appears above the musician, turned to the right where secondary figures, engaged in their own pursuits, pay no attention to the two main actors.

Key facts

Artist dates
1684 - 1721
Full title
The Scale of Love
Date made
probably 1717-8
Medium and support
Oil on canvas
50.8 x 59.7 cm
Acquisition credit
Bequeathed by Sir Julius Wernher, Bt, 1912
Inventory number
Location in Gallery