A Glimpse into the 18th Century

Jean-Etienne Liotard, The Sackler Wing of Galleries, Royal Academy of Arts, Burlington House, Piccadilly, London W1, until 31st January 2016

Jean-Etienne Liotard, Self-portrait Laughing, c. 1770 Oil on canvas, 84 x 74 cm Musee d'art et d'histoire, Geneva, inv. 1893-9 Photo Musee d'art et d'histoire, Geneva. Photography: Bettina Jacot-Descombes

Jean-Etienne Liotard, Self-portrait Laughing, c. 1770
Oil on canvas, 84 x 74 cm
Musee d’art et d’histoire, Geneva, inv. 1893-9
Photo Musee d’art et d’histoire, Geneva. Photography: Bettina Jacot-Descombes

 

Visitors to this wonderful exhibition will be left in no doubt as to the reasons why the Swiss artist Jean-Etienne Liotard (1702-1789) earned such international recognition as a portraitist in his lifetime.  There are more than seventy works by him on view – oil paintings, miniatures, drawings and most importantly his speciality – pastels.

Jean-Etienne Liotard, Woman on a Sofa Reading, 1748â??52 Oil on canvas, 50 x 60 cm Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence Photo Gabinetto Fotografico dell'Ex Soprintendenza Speciale per il Patrimonio Storico, Artistico ed Etnoantropologico e per il Polo Museale della città di Firenze

Jean-Etienne Liotard, Woman on a Sofa Reading, 1748â??52
Oil on canvas, 50 x 60 cm
Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence
Photo Gabinetto Fotografico dell’Ex Soprintendenza Speciale per il Patrimonio Storico, Artistico ed Etnoantropologico e per il Polo Museale della città di Firenze

He was a well-travelled man and so as well as images of his own family and himself we meet members of British Society, the French Royal Family, the family of Maria Theresa, Continental Nobility and of course there are also the Orientalist pictures from his time in Constantinople.  These are remarkable works, even more so when one realises that he did not flatter his sitters but painted them as they looked.  It is a view into the real 18th century.

Jean-Etienne Liotard, Archduchess Marie-Antoinette of Austria, 1762 Black and red chalk, graphite pencil, watercolour and watercolour glaze on paper, heightened with colour on the verso, 31.1 x 24.9 cm Cabinet d'arts graphiques des Musees d'art et d'histoire, Geneva. On permanent loan from the Gottfried Keller Foundation, inv. 1947-0042 Photo Musee d'art et d'histoire, Geneva. Photography: Bettina Jacot-Descombes

Jean-Etienne Liotard, Archduchess Marie-Antoinette of Austria, 1762
Black and red chalk, graphite pencil, watercolour and watercolour glaze on paper, heightened with colour on the verso, 31.1 x 24.9 cm
Cabinet d’arts graphiques des Musees d’art et d’histoire, Geneva. On permanent loan from the Gottfried Keller Foundation, inv. 1947-0042
Photo Musee d’art et d’histoire, Geneva. Photography: Bettina Jacot-Descombes

One must not forget either that Liotard also painted some Still Lifes, Genre Scenes and Trompe L’Oeil.  They too as in the case of Still-life: Tea Set, c. 1770-83 (The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles) also provide a visual aid to the sort of porcelain and other objects used in the 18th century.  This picture is one of two works by him featured in the book accompanying the recent Tea, coffee or chocolate? – The rise of exotic drinks in Paris in the 18th century exhibition at Paris’s Museé Cognacq -Jay.

Jean-Etienne Liotard, Still-life: Tea Set, c. 1770â??83 Oil on canvas mounted on board, 37.5 x 51.4 cm The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, inv. 84.PA.57 Photo The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

Jean-Etienne Liotard, Still-life: Tea Set, c. 1770â??83
Oil on canvas mounted on board, 37.5 x 51.4 cm
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, inv. 84.PA.57
Photo The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

http://www.royalacademy.org.uk

Jean-Etienne Liotard, L'Ecriture, 1752 Pastel on six sheets of blue paper, 81 x 107 cm Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna Photo (c) SchloB Schönbrunn Kultur- und Betriebsges.m.b.H. Photography: Edgar Knaack

Jean-Etienne Liotard, L’Ecriture, 1752
Pastel on six sheets of blue paper, 81 x 107 cm
Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna
Photo (c) SchloB Schönbrunn Kultur- und Betriebsges.m.b.H. Photography: Edgar Knaack

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