Gillot's name is known to art history mainly thanks to his having briefly (1705-07) taught J.-A. Watteau. Yet his work is deserving of interest on its own, for it illustrates trends in iconography and style that helped to shape French art of the early eighteenth century. Tradition has it that Gillot's life was as eventful as his work as a painter, draughtsman and printmaker was multifaceted, on the basis of which he was accepted into the Paris Academy in 1715 as 'Peintre de sujets modernes'.
After moving to Paris in the early 1690s, he studied under the history painter J.-B. Corneille. However, Gillot's individual style appears to have been shaped by other factors. For example, his affinity with the applied arts is explained by his having come from an old family of craftsmen. Many of his ornamental drawings and prints are designs for wall panels, chimneypieces or furniture, or were used in the production of such objects.
Gillot had a particular affinity with the stage, whether opera or theatre, especially the commedia dell'arte or its short-lived French substitute, the 'Thèâtre de la Foire'. As a result, he produced many designs for figurines and stage-like ensembles.
His illustrations of theatre scenes, filled with wit and drama, frequently refer to recognisable plays or even specific performances. For that reason, they are of interest to theatre historians, quite unlike those of Watteau, who instead of describing actual events developed a pictorial system of his own imagination.