jean-etienne liotard


Jean-Étienne Liotard (1702–1789) Archduchess Marie-Antoinette of Austria (1755–1793), 1762 Black chalk, graphite pencil, watercolor, and pastel on very thin white laid paper, heightened with color on the verso 31.1 x 24.9 cm (12 1/4 x 9 13/16 in.) Musées d’Art et d’Histoire, Cabinet des Dessins


Jean-Etienne Liotard



Jean-Etienne Liotard was born in Geneva, Switzerland to French parents.  He was trained by Jean-Babtiste Masse as an enamellist & miniaturist in Paris.  His artistic beginnings also coincide with the emergence of the Rococo period in European art & design. He worked as a portraitist to the European intelligentsia & royalty of his day.  He is said to have traveled widely including to the Ottoman Empire (modern day Turkey).  His work sometimes shows Turkish influence, not in style but in content.  He is also well known for his extraordinary work with pastels.  The pastel works are some of the finest in the medium.

He also made oil paintings, watercolors, miniatures, prints & drawings, all with a deft handling of each (or combination thereof).

His work exemplifies strong attention to the subtleties of skin, hair, fabric & overall surface detail.  His images are amazingly realistic, but his delicacy of handling softens the imagery & soothes the harshness a “true” image would have.

He died wealthy & although he was well-known in his day, he remains somewhat obscure today.  A 2006 show at the Frick Collection in New York City brought a small part of Liotard’s work to American audiences.

–Aurelio Madrid 


A New York Times article on the Frick show:


A link to the Liotard show at the Frick:

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