If you thought that artists causing a stir with their appearance, hanging out with the famous and amassing huge fortunes started in the 20th century, you should think again. Trailblazer Jean-Etienne Liotard ticked all of those boxes – and then some – back in the 18th century.
JEAN-ETIENNE LIOTARD, AUTOPORTRAIT, DIT ‘A LA LONGUE BARBE’, 1751 –1752 © GENEVA MAH.
The Swiss master of pastel portraits, whose A Dutch Girl At Breakfast (Estimate: £4,000,000–6,000,000) has just been announced for July’s Old Master & British Paintings, was an eccentric figure who attracted plenty of attention thanks to his waist-length beard, oriental attire and flair for self-publicity.
But, more importantly, he was also a hugely talented artist who is widely regarded as one of the leading portraitists of the 18th century.
As Alex Bell, Joint International Head and Co-Chairman of Sotheby’s Old Master Paintings Department, explains: “Liotard was an “outsider,” an extraordinarily innovative artist whose remarkable technical mastery won him the admiration of Enlightenment Europe and places him today among the greatest artists of the 18th century.
JEAN-ETIENNE LIOTARD, A DUTCH GIRL AT BREAKFAST, ESTIMATE: £4,000,000–6,000,000.
“The incredible finesse and astonishing vivacity of his art is everywhere in A Dutch Girl at Breakfast. The painting’s extraordinary unbroken provenance stretching back almost 250 years is matched only by its rarity in Liotard’s oeuvre, both in terms of its subject and its medium.”
The painting was a highlight of the recent Liotard exhibition at the Royal Academy and has been unseen on the market for 250 years.
The Old Master & British Paintings sale is on 6 July.