Friday, February 22, 2013

Traditional Portraits of Women by Jean-Etienne Liotard 1702-1789


Jean-Etienne Liotard (Swiss artist, 1702-1789)  Mademoiselle Louise Jacquet


In 2006, the Frick Collection presented the works of Jean-Étienne Liotard (1702-1789), this artist's first in North America and one of his few anywhere.  The review in the New York Times asked, "Liotard? He's a specialty item now, but in his era, Enlightenment Europe, he was a smash success. Even then he was seen as a maverick, a figure of contradictions. He was Swiss, but interesting; he was a stone-cold realist in an age of rococo frills. He had ultra-fancy patrons — princes, a pope, Madame de Pompadour — but a provincial education. He was a vigorous mover; he rarely stayed in one place for long. But he wasn't a shaker: he sparked no new style, inspired no disciples.


 Jean-Etienne Liotard (Swiss artist, 1702-1789) La Belle Lectrice


 "His apartness was as much circumstantial as personal. He was born in Calvinist Geneva, far from a Parisan art world dominated by the fashions, politics and hierarchies of the Royal Academy. Rather than study history painting, the prestige genre, he started out as a portrait miniaturist, steady-income work. In a great age of oil paint, he was partial to pastel. But he also mastered enamel work, printmaking, watercolor and drawing, a true high-low mix.


 Jean-Etienne Liotard (Swiss artist, 1702-1789) Princess Louisa


"He had itchy feet. He worked in Paris for a while, traveled with a French patron to Italy, then with a British sponsor to Constantinople. Little of the art he did there survives, though the show includes...one of a European lady in elaborate native dress. Other artists might have made her exotic; under Liotard's clinical, detail-obsessed gaze she's an anthropological specimen.


Jean-Etienne Liotard (Swiss-French artist, 1702-1789 Empress Maria Theresa Archduchess of Austria


"...the large self-portrait, known as "Liotard With a Beard." Beards were out of fashion in 18th-century Europe. He had grown his while in Turkey. Long, full and unruly, it was a bold cosmetic statement and, it turned out, a public relations coup. Heads turned when he walked the streets of Paris. People called him the Turkish painter. Commissions piled up.


Jean-Etienne Liotard (Swiss-French artist, 1702-1789) Charlotte Marie Cazenove 1765


"He kept moving. He went to Vienna, where he established a working friendship with the Empress Maria Theresa. It says something about Liotard's character that he maintained long-term contact with this particular court, the most austere and least corrupt in Europe. And it says something about his gifts that the empress gave him the commissions she did.


Jean-Etienne Liotard (Swiss-French artist, 1702-1789) Jean-Etienne Liotard (1758-1822) 1760


"Other artists got to do big-gun official portraits, the kind that turned a pawky prince into Adonis or Zeus. Maria Theresa asked Liotard to draw portraits of her children, intimate pictures that a fond mother could carry on her travels. She had quite a brood, 16 children in all.


Jean-Etienne Liotard (Swiss-French artist, 1702-1789) Johanna Gabrielle, archiduchesse d'Autriche (1750-1762) 1762


"Whatever Liotard was paid for these pictures, it was too little. He poured every ounce of his talent into them. Each seamlessly blends several mediums: black and red chalk, pencil, pastel and watercolor. Details are executed with a watchmaker's precision. To give the figures a naturalistic glow, Liotard colored the reverse side of each thin sheet of paper. Marie-Antoinette is bathed in a rosiness that you sense rather than actually see.


Jean-Etienne Liotard (Swiss-French artist, 1702-1789) Lady Charles Tyrell (1705-1778) 1746


"The Vienna stays were harmonious interludes in larger journeys. Were Liotard working today, he would live in airports, waiting for the next flight to Venice, Milan, Darmstadt, Lyon. He spent two years in London, then two in Holland, where, at 54, he married. He shaved off his beard for the wedding. He didn't need it anymore. He was rich and famous, and ready at last to be a good Swiss householder.


Jean-Etienne Liotard (Swiss-French artist, 1702-1789) Madame Pierre Lullin (1659-1762) 1762


"The portraits kept coming, of his growing family, of Genevan merchants and intellectuals. They are delightful, not just for their candor and skill but for their variety...and you discover that there was absolutely nothing he could not do with pastel.


Jean-Etienne Liotard (Swiss-French artist, 1702-1789) Lady with a Jonquil 1750-59


"But his kind of realism was veracity, not verismo. Facts were his strength; truth of observation his goal. He delivers breathtaking flourishes, but always contained within solid forms. For him exactitude is the rule; but this means flaws are unavoidable, his sitters' and his own.


Jean-Etienne Liotard (Swiss-French artist, 1702-1789) Maria Amalia, archiduchesse d'Autriche (1746-1804) 1762


"Is his the face of the Enlightenment? Yes, and the Enlightenment at its best. It speaks of no sanctity, no pretension, no Fall, no fear, no ideology, no "God's in his heaven, all's right with the world." It says: The world is all right, period. And all wrong. All everything. And the artist — worker, entertainer, recorder — is happy to be here, wherever here is. For Liotard it seems to have been pretty much everywhere.


Jean-Etienne Liotard (Swiss-French artist, 1702-1789) Louise-Marguerite Marcet (1764-1788) 1785


"It is a concrete sense of hereness that makes his art refreshing. It makes every picture feel as if he approached it as his first and the last picture; as if no picture had a memory of any other; and as if each was an experiment, a flier to who knew where. Some took off; some didn't. He didn't fret over "great." He moved on to see what was next. He was wise that way, cool that way, modern that way."


Jean-Etienne Liotard (Swiss-French artist, 1702-1789) Maria Antonia (Marie-Antoinette) archiduchesse d'Autriche (1755-1793) 1762


Jean-Etienne Liotard (Swiss-French artist, 1702-1789) Madame Denis-Joseph La Live 1759


Jean-Etienne Liotard (Swiss-French artist, 1702-1789) Maria Christine, archiduchesse d'Autriche (1742-1798) 1762


Jean-Etienne Liotard (Swiss-French artist, 1702-1789) Madame Francois Tronchin (1713-1788) 1758


Jean-Etienne Liotard (Swiss-French artist, 1702-1789) Maria Caroline, archiduchesse d'Autriche (1752-1814) 1762


Jean-Etienne Liotard (Swiss-French artist, 1702-1789) Maria Elisabeth, archiduchesse d'Autriche (1743-1809) 1762


Jean-Etienne Liotard (Swiss-French artist, 1702-1789) Madame Jean-Louis Maisonnet (1721-1812) 1755


Jean-Etienne Liotard (Swiss-French artist, 1702-1789) Maria Josepha, archiduchesse d'Autriche (1751-1767) 1762


Jean-Etienne Liotard (Swiss-French artist, 1702-1789) Madame Jeanne-Marie Liotard (1726-1789) 1752


Jean-Etienne Liotard (Swiss-French artist, 1702-1789) Marie Anna (Marianne), archiduchesse d'Autriche (1738-1789) 1762


Jean-Etienne Liotard (Swiss-French artist, 1702-1789) Madame Marc Liotard de la Servette  (1783-1827) 1775


Jean-Etienne Liotard (Swiss-French artist, 1702-1789) Madame Paul Girardot de Vermenoux (1739-1789) 1760-1770


Jean-Etienne Liotard (Swiss-French artist, 1702-1789) Marie-Therese Liotard (1763-1793) 1779


Jean-Etienne Liotard (Swiss-French artist, 1702-1789) Madame Sophie de France (1734-1782) 1750-51


Jean-Etienne Liotard (Swiss-French artist, 1702-1789) Maria Fredericke van Reede-Athlone at age 7


Jean-Etienne Liotard (Swiss-French artist, 1702-1789) Marie Jeanne Liotard (1761-1813) 1779


Jean-Etienne Liotard (Swiss-French artist, 1702-1789) Marie-Therese d'Autriche (1717-1780)


Jean-Etienne Liotard (Swiss-French artist, 1702-1789) Maria Josepha of Saxony, Dauphine of France.


See Jean-Étienne Liotard, the Unrelenting Eye of the Enlightenment by Holland Cotter New York Times June 23, 2006

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