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Jean-Étienne Liotard

(1702—1789) painter


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(b Geneva, 22 Dec. 1702; d Geneva, 12 June 1789).

Swiss painter (mainly in pastels) and printmaker. He travelled very widely in Europe and also spent four years in Constantinople (1738–42), after which he adopted ‘Turkish’ dress and beard (actually more Moldavian); his eccentric appearance, which was a useful form of self-publicity, is familiar from his numerous self-portraits (however, when he married in 1756 he reluctantly shaved off the beard to please his wife). His delicate and polished style brought him fashionable success as a portraitist in Paris, Vienna, Italy, the Netherlands, and England, which he visited in 1753–5 and 1773–4. In 1781 he published a treatise on painting, in which he emphasized the importance of drawing: he said it should be ‘clear, without being dry; firm, without being hard or stiff; flowing, without being flabby; delicate and true, without being mannered’. The best collection of his work is in the Musée d'Art et d'Histoire in Geneva.

Subjects: Art.


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