Rarely-seen candid portraits by one of the most refined, talented and innovative artists of the eighteenth century will be on show in a major new exhibition at the Scottish National Gallery this summer.
Among the royal highlights of the exhibition will be the artist’s 1754 portraits of George, Prince of Wales (the future King George III) as a teenager and his young sister Princess Louisa Anne.
Mostly unfamiliar in Britain, Jean-Étienne Liotard (1702-89) was a much-celebrated figure in the age of Mozart and Casanova. Liotard enjoyed a long and productive career working in the influential cities and courts of Europe. He is most famous for his work in pastel.
The exhibition that runs from 4 July – 13 September is also part of the of the Edinburgh Art Festival running 30 July – 30 August.
Liotard was born in the republic of Geneva and travelled across Europe, visiting and working in many cities, including Amsterdam, The Hague, Venice, Rome and Naples.
His knowledge of fascinating subjects unquestionably advanced 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.
In Britain, his patrons included aristocrats, actors, young travellers undertaking the traditional ‘Grand Tour’ of Europe, and men and women of fashion.
In 1738, Liotard travelled to Constantinople with two British Grand Tourists, he had met in a coffee house in Rome. He stayed for about four years, acquiring commissions from the British Ambassador, Sir Everard Fawkener, and other residents in the city.
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 MaryAnne Stevens and William Hauptman and for the National Galleries of Scotland by Christopher Baker.
In Edinburgh, the exhibition has been made possible due to the generous support of The Friends of the National Galleries of Scotland.
Further information may be found at: National Galleries Scotland
Featured photo credit: Hands Live via Flickr
Photo credits: Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2015