Friday, November 20, 2015

Pastel Pick of the Week: Jean-Étienne Liotard at the Royal Academy

The pastel masterpieces of 18th-century Swiss-French portrait artist Jean-Étienne Liotard (1702-1789) are getting the royal treatment in an exhibition at the Royal Academy of Art in London. The retrospective, which has traveled to London from the National Galleries of Scotland, is the first retrospective exhibition in the UK to be devoted to the artist and consists of more than 70 rarely-shown works.

 "Jean-Etienne Liotard" exhibition

Installation view of “Jean-Etienne Liotard” exhibition.
Photo: © David Parry, Royal Academy of Arts.


The Power of Pastel: According to a November 16th review in The Evening Standard, Liotard achieved “grace without sacrificing intimacy” in his portraits. “The secret,” Ben Luke writes, “lies in his use of pastel, by far the dominant medium in around 70 works in the show. Pastel is a rare medium compared to oil paint: only around 20 paintings in the National Gallery are pastels but in the early 18th century it had become fashionable, thanks largely to the Venetian artist Rosalba Carriera. Liotard had begun using them in Paris in the 1720s, and eventually viewed them as his primary medium. ‘For its beauty, vivacity, freshness and lightness of palette,” he wrote, “pastel painting is more beautiful than any other kind.’ ”

The show will remain at the Royal Academy through January 31, 2016. Go “inside the show” in this online video from the Royal Academy.





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Join the Richard McKinley Webinar This Tuesday, November 24, 2016, as he offers pastel painting tips. Learn more about painting alla prima (all in one sitting), how to add texture with faux impasto painting techniques, and more. This webinar will conclude with a live Q&A. All who register will get a link to the recording of the webinar as well as a special discount on his books and videos. Sign up today at





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