Jean-Étienne Liotard

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Jean-Etienne Liotard, self-portrait, c. 1749 in his favourite medium of pastel. The full beard he wore after returning from Turkey was a considerable eccentricity in Rococo Europe. Jean-Etienne Liotard 10.jpg
Jean-Étienne Liotard, self-portrait, c. 1749 in his favourite medium of pastel. The full beard he wore after returning from Turkey was a considerable eccentricity in Rococo Europe.

Jean-Étienne Liotard (French pronunciation:  [ʒan‿etjɛn ljɔtaʁ] ; 22 December 1702 – 12 June 1789) was a Swiss [1] painter, art connoisseur and dealer. He is best known for his portraits in pastel, and for the works from his trip to Turkey. A Huguenot of French origin and citizen of the Republic of Geneva [2] , he was born and died in Geneva, but spent most of his career in stays in the capitals of Europe, where his portraits were much in demand. He worked in Rome, Istanbul, Paris, Vienna, London and other cities.

Connoisseur subject-matter expert

A connoisseur is a person who has a great deal of knowledge about the fine arts, cuisines, or an expert judge in matters of taste. In many areas the term now has an air of pretension, and may be used in a partly ironic sense, but in the art trade connoisseurship remains a crucial skill for the identification and attribution to individual artists of works by the style and technique, where documentary evidence of provenance is lacking. The situation in the wine trade is similar, for example in assessing the potential for ageing in a young wine through wine tasting.

Pastel art medium

A pastel is an art medium in the form of a stick, consisting of pure powdered pigment and a binder. The pigments used in pastels are the same as those used to produce all colored art media, including oil paints; the binder is of a neutral hue and low saturation. The color effect of pastels is closer to the natural dry pigments than that of any other process.

Geneva Large city in Switzerland

Geneva is the second-most populous city in Switzerland and the most populous city of Romandy, the French-speaking part of Switzerland. Situated where the Rhône exits Lake Geneva, it is the capital of the Republic and Canton of Geneva.



Portrait of Maurice de Saxe, 1748, pastel on parchment Jean-Etienne Liotard - Portret van graaf Herman Maurits van Saksen.jpg
Portrait of Maurice de Saxe , 1748, pastel on parchment
A Lady Pouring Chocolate, ca. 1744, oil on canvas, National Gallery Liotard-Lady Pouring Chocolate.jpg
A Lady Pouring Chocolate, ca. 1744, oil on canvas, National Gallery

Liotard was born in Geneva. His father was a French Protestant jeweller who fled to Geneva after 1685. Jean-Étienne Liotard began his studies under Professors Daniel Gardelle and Petitot, whose enamels and miniatures he copied with considerable skill.

Jean Louis Petitot French painter

Jean Louis Petitot, French enamel painter, was the eldest son of Jean Petitot, and was instructed in enameling by his father. Some of his works so closely resemble those of the elder Petitot that it is difficult to distinguish between them, and he was really the only serious rival his father ever had. He settled for a while in London, where he remained till 1682, and painted many enamel portraits of Charles II. In 1682 he removed to Paris, but in 1695 was back again in London, where he remained until his death.

Vitreous enamel Material made by fusing powdered glass to a substrate by firing

Vitreous enamel, also called porcelain enamel, is a material made by fusing powdered glass to a substrate by firing, usually between 750 and 850 °C. The powder melts, flows, and then hardens to a smooth, durable vitreous coating. The word comes from the Latin vitreum, meaning "glassy".

He went to Paris in 1725, studying under Jean-Baptiste Massé  [ fr ] and François Lemoyne, on whose recommendation he was taken to Naples by the vicomte de Puysieux, Louis Philogène Brulart, Marquis de Puysieulx and Comte de Sillery. In 1735 he was in Rome, painting the portraits of Pope Clement XII and several cardinals. In 1738 he accompanied Lord Duncannon to Constantinople, where he worked for the next four years. [3]

François Lemoyne French painter

François Lemoyne or François Le Moine was a French rococo painter. He was a winner of the Prix de Rome, professor of the Académie de peinture et de sculpture, and Premier peintre du Roi to Louis XV. He was tutor to Charles-Joseph Natoire and François Boucher.

Naples Comune in Campania, Italy

Naples is the regional capital of Campania and the third-largest municipality in Italy after Rome and Milan. In 2017, around 967,069 people lived within the city's administrative limits while its province-level municipality has a population of 3,115,320 residents. Its continuously built-up metropolitan area is the second or third largest metropolitan area in Italy and one of the most densely populated cities in Europe.

Louis Philogène Brûlart, vicomte de Puisieulx French politician

Louis Philogène Brulart, Marquis de Puysieulx (1727), Comte de Sillery was a French foreign minister.

Jean-Étienne Liotard visited Istanbul and painted numerous pastels of Turkish domestic scenes; he also continued to wear Turkish dress for much of the time when back in Europe. Using modern dress was considered unheroic and inelegant in history painting using Middle Eastern settings, with Europeans wearing local costume, as travellers were advised to do.

Istanbul Metropolitan municipality in Marmara, Turkey

Istanbul, formerly known as Byzantium and Constantinople, is the most populous city in Turkey and the country's economic, cultural and historic center. Istanbul is a transcontinental city in Eurasia, straddling the Bosporus strait between the Sea of Marmara and the Black Sea. Its commercial and historical center lies on the European side and about a third of its population lives in suburbs on the Asian side of the Bosporus. With a total population of around 15 million residents in its metropolitan area, Istanbul is one of the world's most populous cities, ranking as the world's fourth largest city proper and the largest European city. The city is the administrative center of the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality. Istanbul is viewed as a bridge between the East and West.

History painting genre in painting defined by historical matter

History painting is a genre in painting defined by its subject matter rather than artistic style. History paintings usually depict a moment in a narrative story, rather than a specific and static subject, as in a portrait. The term is derived from the wider senses of the word historia in Latin and Italian, meaning "story" or "narrative", and essentially means "story painting". Most history paintings are not of scenes from history, especially paintings from before about 1850.

Many travellers had themselves painted in exotic Eastern dress on their return, including Lord Byron, as did many who had never left Europe, including Madame de Pompadour. [4] Byron's poetry was highly influential in introducing Europe to the heady cocktail of Romanticism in exotic Oriental settings which was later to dominate 19th century Oriental art.

Lord Byron English poet and a leading figure in the Romantic movement

George Gordon Byron, 6th Baron Byron, known simply as Lord Byron, was a British poet, peer, politician, and leading figure in the Romantic movement. He is regarded as one of the greatest British poets and remains widely read and influential. Among his best-known works are the lengthy narrative poems Don Juan and Childe Harold's Pilgrimage; many of his shorter lyrics in Hebrew Melodies also became popular.

Madame de Pompadour chief mistress of Louis XV of France

Jeanne Antoinette Poisson, Marquise de Pompadour, commonly known as Madame de Pompadour, was a member of the French court and was the official chief mistress of Louis XV from 1745 to 1751, and remained influential as court favourite until her death.

Romanticism period of artistic, literary, and intellectual movement that started in 18th century Europe

Romanticism was an artistic, literary, musical and intellectual movement that originated in Europe toward the end of the 18th century, and in most areas was at its peak in the approximate period from 1800 to 1850. Romanticism was characterized by its emphasis on emotion and individualism as well as glorification of all the past and nature, preferring the medieval rather than the classical. It was partly a reaction to the Industrial Revolution, the aristocratic social and political norms of the Age of Enlightenment, and the scientific rationalization of nature—all components of modernity. It was embodied most strongly in the visual arts, music, and literature, but had a major impact on historiography, education, the social sciences, and the natural sciences. It had a significant and complex effect on politics, with romantic thinkers influencing liberalism, radicalism, conservatism and nationalism.

His eccentric adoption of oriental costume secured him the nickname of the Turkish painter. [3]

He went to Vienna in 1742 to paint the portraits of the Imperial family. In 1745 he sold La belle chocolatière to Francesco Algarotti.

Still under distinguished patronage [ citation needed ] he returned to Paris. In 1753 he visited England, where he painted Princess Augusta of Saxe-Gotha, the Princess of Wales. He went to Holland in 1756, where, in the following year, he married Marie Fargues. She also came from a Hugenot family, and wanted him to shave off his beard.

In 1762 he painted portraits in Vienna, including Marie Antoinette; in 1770 in Paris. Another visit to England followed in 1772, and in the next two years his name figures among the Royal Academy exhibitors. He returned to his native town in 1776. In 1781 Liotard published his Traité des principes et des règles de la peinture. In his last days he painted still lifes and landscapes. He died at Geneva in 1789.


Liotard was an artist of great versatility. Best known for his graceful and delicate pastel drawings, [5] of which La Liseuse, The Chocolate Girl , and La Belle Lyonnaise at the Dresden Gallery and Maria Frederike van Reede-Athlone at Seven at the J. Paul Getty Museum are delightful examples, he also achieved distinction for his enamels, copperplate engravings, and glass painting. Additionally, he wrote a Treatise on the Art of Painting and was an expert collector of paintings by the old masters.

Many of the masterpieces he had acquired were sold by him at high prices on his second visit to England. The museums of Amsterdam, Bern, and Geneva are particularly rich in examples of his paintings and pastel drawings. A picture of a Turk seated is at the Victoria and Albert Museum, while the British Museum owns two of his drawings.

The Louvre has, besides twenty-two drawings, a portrait of Lieutenant General Hérault as well as an oil painting of an English merchant and a friend dressed in costumes and entitled Monsieur Levett and Mademoiselle Helene Glavany in Turkish Costumes. A portrait of the artist is to be found at the Sala di pittori, in the Uffizi Gallery, Florence. As his son also married a Dutch girl, the Rijksmuseum inherited an important collection of his drawings and paintings.

One outstanding feature of Liotard's paintings is the prevalence of smiling subjects. Generally, portrait subjects of the time adopted a more serious tone. This levity was a reflection of the Enlightenment-era philosophies that inspired Liotard. [5] Also indicative of the era, Liotard created works celebrating science, like the painting of woman paying homage to the doctor that saved her. [5]

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  1. ULAN
  2. La Vendée La Terreur « Enquête sur l’histoire », trimestrial publication, Winter 93, number 5, p.74.
  3. 1 2 Baetjer, Katharine, and Marjorie Shelley. 2011. Pastel Portraits: Images of 18th-century Europe. New Haven, Conn: Yale University Press. p. 12. ISBN   9780300169812.
  4. Christine Riding, Travellers and Sitters: The Orientalist Portrait, in Tromans, 48-75
  5. 1 2 3 Jonathan Jones, Jean-Etienne Liotard review – a joyous time machine back to the Enlightenment, The Guardian, 20 October 2015.