The First Art Newspaper on the Net   Established in 1996 United States Saturday, July 20, 2019

Rarely-seen portraits by Jean-Étienne Liotard on view at the Scottish National Gallery
Jean-Etienne Liotard, Marie-Anne Françoise Liotard with a Doll, c.1744. Pastel on parchment, 45 x 50 cm, © Vienna Shonbrunn Palace.

EDINBURGH.- Rarely-seen breathtakingly candid portraits by one of the most sophisticated, witty and innovative artists of the eighteenth century are on show in a major new exhibition at the Scottish National Gallery this summer. Although now largely unknown in Britain, Jean-Étienne Liotard (1702-89) was a much-celebrated figure in the age of Mozart and Casanova. An adventurous traveller, who was hugely skilled both as an artist and as a self-publicist, Liotard enjoyed a long and prolific career working in the major cities and courts of Europe. He is most renowned for his work in pastel, a delicate medium in which he achieved astonishing levels of detail, and for the compelling, uncompromising honesty of his portraits. This exhibition of some 50 works from private and public collections around the world – the first major celebration in the UK of Liotard’s work – also includes examples of the artist’s finest drawings, oil paintings, enamels, miniatures and prints, revealing the full range of his remarkable achievement.

Liotard was born in the republic of Geneva and journeyed all across Europe, visiting and working in many cities, including Amsterdam, The Hague, Venice, Rome and Naples. He also spent four years in Constantinople, an experience that inspired his subsequent adoption of strikingly unusual dress, inspired by his experience of the Near East, which became as much a focus of curiosity as his portraits.

Liotard’s knowledge of exotic subjects certainly furthered his career at the courts of Vienna, Paris and London. He depicted the families of the Habsburg Empress Maria Theresa, King Louis XV of France and Augusta, Princess of Wales, as well as subjects from the exiled Jacobite court in Rome. Although he was born in a republic – a background which might seem to prevent him finding favour with such significant royal patrons – his skills, charm and the novelty of his work transcended such concerns.

Liotard’s court art was of a very particular type; in an age of magnificence, when portraiture was usually used to be public and propagandist, the artist offered an altogether more intimate and quiet service, creating small works of radical honesty, sometimes stripped of any of the trappings or attributes of state. Among the highlights of the exhibition will be the artist's mesmerising portraits of the teenaged George, Prince of Wales (the future King George III) and his young sister Princes Louisa Anne, both made in 1754.

The artist described himself as a ‘Citizen of Geneva’ and depicted the bourgeoisie of his home city with honesty and grace, chiefly in the 1750s. In Britain his clientele included aristocrats, actors, young travellers undertaking the traditional ‘Grand Tour’ of Europe, and men and women of fashion. In portraits such as Eva Marie Garrick (wife of the celebrated actor David Garrick, whom he was also commissioned to portray) Liotard combined compelling likenesses with an obsessive interest in details of clothes, recording with astonishing veracity details of fur, silk and lace. In such works the artist took the art of using pastels – sticks of pigments bound in gum – to new heights and created brilliant illusionistic effects.

Liotard travelled to Constantinople in 1738 with two British Grand Tourists, whom he had met in a coffee house in Rome. He stayed for about four years, securing commissions from the British Ambassador, Sir Everard Fawkener, and other residents in the city. He largely confined his studies to a langorous world of interiors, where figures recline on divans, and portraits of diplomats and merchants in oil and chalk, which meticulously pinpoint the intriguing and complex interaction between west and east through dress, furnishings and customs. When Liotard arrived in Britain he was heralded as ‘The Turk’ as he had widely distributed engravings based on drawings made in Constantinople.

Throughout his life Liotard depicted his own features in a wide range of media, employing oil paint, enamel and various print making techniques. The results are some of the most candid and intriguing self-portraits of the eighteenth century. They document his ageing, but also allowed him to develop and refine the exotic, eastern image he promoted, especially through flamboyant dress, following his visit to Constantinople.

The artist also made portraits of family members which provide a delightfully intimate insight into his immediate circle. He married Marie Fargues, the daughter of a French merchant, in 1756, and depicted her and their five children on numerous occasions, particularly creating remarkably accomplished pastel studies, such as Marie-Anne Francoise Liotard with a Doll (c.1774).

Towards the latter part of his long career Liotard began to explore new subject matter – still life and genre (or everyday) subjects. In works such as Trompe l'oeil with Two Bas-reliefs and Two Drawings (1771) he excelled at replicating in astonishing detail the appearance of the objects before him, taking inspiration from French and Dutch art, but also achieving a wholly original synthesis. He also enjoyed success as an art dealer and sought to create a legacy through writing a treatise on art.

The exhibition in Edinburgh features some 50 works by Liotard from distinguished private and public collections, which include the Royal Collection, The Frick Collection, New York, the Musée d’Art et d’Histoire, Geneva, the Musée du Louvre, Paris, the Schonbrunn Palace, Vienna, and collection of the Duke of Devonshire at Chatsworth.

Christopher Baker, Director of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, commented on the exhibition: “Liotard is perhaps one of the greatest artists that most people have never heard of. Travelling as widely as he did, he has never been easy to categorise and link with a particular national ‘school’. He has in many respects also become invisible because many of his finest portraits remain in private collections. However, his glorious, quirky and wonderfully delicate work will appeal to anyone interested in eighteenth-century society, fashion, sophisticated techniques and the fascination that Europeans have long had with exotic themes. He so richly deserves to be put back on the art historical map.”

The exhibition is a collaboration with the Royal Academy of Arts in London, where it will be shown 24 October 2015 – 31 January 2016.

It has been co-curated by the independent scholars Mary-Anne Stevens and William Hauptman and for the National Galleries of Scotland by Christopher Baker.

Today's News

July 5, 2015

Sotheby's London unveils masterworks from the collections of Castle Howard

Rarely-seen portraits by Jean-Étienne Liotard on view at the Scottish National Gallery

National Gallery of Victoria announces major international exhibition featuring Andy Warhol and Ai Weiwei

Overview of American artist Joseph Cornell's inventive oeuvre opens at the Royal Academy of Arts

Delaware Art Museum presents the first exhibition of painter and illustrator John Sloan's puzzles

Gateway to National Museum of American History's new Innovation Wing opens

Fundació Joan Miró opens a survey of the oeuvre of one of the greatest exponents of Catalan abstract painting

Centre Pompidou exhibits works by German photographers Anna and Bernhard Blume

MoMA exhibition highlights how artists have used the house as a means to explore universal topics

Seventy years working with glass: Acclaimed glass artist Lino Tagliapietra to visit Stockbridge

MoMA to present 'Mexico at Midnight: Film Noir from Mexican Cinema's Golden Age'

'Battle on the Board: Chess during World War II' opens at the World Chess Hall of Fame

'Reality in Flames: Modern Australian Art and the Second World War' opens at the Australian War Memorial

Diplomatic Entanglements: Alessandro Balteo Yazbeck exhibits at Rochester Art Center

New Aldrich exhibition reflects on the complex sociology of beauty in material culture

Where to Start From: Major exhibition of works by Maurizio Nannucci opens at MAXXI

Yoko Ono's 'Wish Tree' opens at Hirshhorn; Visitors are invited to tie wishes to the tree through Labor Day

Spink expected to break a few world records with July Collector's Series Sale

Exhibition of works by Guillaume Bresson opens at the Church des Célestins in Avignon

Wave Hill exhibits Benjamin Swett's photos of New York City trees

Exhibitions at Deichtorhallen focus on various series of works by the photographer Phillip Toledano

French pride fizzes as UNESCO lists Champagne and Burgundy vineyards

Italy Holocaust memorial shelters migrants from 'indifference'

New Smithsonian exhibition 'Primordial Landscapes' immerses visitors in Iceland's dynamic beauty

Most Popular Last Seven Days

1.- Original 'Star Wars' creators lift lid on special effects challenges

2.- Lost '$170 million Caravaggio' snapped up before French auction

3.- Mansell's 'Red Five' on pole for Bonhams sale

4.- Impressionism's 'forgotten woman' shines in new Paris show

5.- Sotheby's to auction the best-surviving NASA videotape recordings of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing

6.- Exhibition explores Dutch and Spanish painting of the 16th and 17th centuries

7.- Cyprus discovers 'first undisturbed Roman shipwreck'

8.- Sotheby's unveils 'Treasures from Chatsworth' with Leonardo Da Vinci drawing, Lucian Freud portraits, and more

9.- Infamous botched art restoration in Spain gets makeover

10.- 1958 Gibson Flying V Korina played by Dave Davies to grab center stage in Heritage Auctions' sale

Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .


Ignacio Villarreal
Editor & Publisher:Jose Villarreal - Consultant: Ignacio Villarreal Jr.
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez

Royalville Communications, Inc
Founder's Site. The most varied versions
of this beautiful prayer.
to a Mexican poet.

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.
Sending Mail
Sending Successful