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Hello Friends, how are you all? 

It’s been awhile since I’ve done an illustrated exhibition review, to be honest, I haven’t been to many exhibitions lately. I’ve been working hard at my studio. But I did go to this exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts.
I was invited to the Jean-Etienne Liotard exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts, and as an avid portrait artist myself, I was fascinated with this exhibition. Even more, when I learned the majority of the painting were done in pastels!

So I am sharing with you all a quick guide to the exhibition!  For that quick lunchtime reading. 😉

Top Tip:
Many thanks to Dolores Le Fanu, art historian who gave the group a talk about Liotard. If  you get the chance to catch her talk;  go for it! She is riveting to hear

Portrait of Liotard illustrated by June Sees

The man himself 

Liotard was a swiss artist who was the master of pastel and was widely anticipated and popular in Royal courts.  He  was not a highly educated  nor was he was  taught in art schools.  But he was a self-promoter,  charismatic  and eccentric man.  Which is really admirable, considering he used his personality to  work hard.
He traveled and worked in Europe, France, London and Constantinople in the east. He wore traditional kaftan robes, long beard. Liotard fitted in very well with the locals in the Orient, however when he arrived in Europe, many referred him  as ‘The Turk.’

June_Sees_Project_WIP_constantinople_illustration_141115_ No.04

Illustration of Constantinople illustrated by June Sees

Jean-Etienne Liotard, Issac-Louis de Thellusson, 1760 Pastel on vellum, 70 x 58 cm

Issac-Louis de Thellusson, 1760 Pastel on vellum


Pastel was a pure pigment of colour held together by wax and chalk. This makes it notoriously hard to preserve and protect over the years. Liotard ‘s pastel  artworks have rarely been exhibited  because of this.
There are fears that the artwork will be damaged during the flight or in transit. Can you imagine, the turbulence of the plane  cause the pastels to fall off!
His technique for enhancing colours and smooth textures such as silk was painting a gouache underlay and apply pastels on top. The way he would paint pearls  was  wetting on the pastel tip and it applies  dry on top of the artwork.
Now we have many fixatives in art shops and the thrifty  hair spray to  fix our pastels or charcoal drawings.
In the 18th Century, to fix the pastel artworks was to apply the glass on top immediately. Liotard would have hired someone to fix his artwork. How they fixed it, it is unknown.

Girl sitting on Sofa illustrated by June Sees

Black and red chalk, graphite pencil, watercolour and watercolour glaze on paper, heightened with colour on the verso, 31.1 x 24.9 cm Cabinet d’arts graphiques des Musées d'art et d'histoire, Geneva. On permanent loan from the Gottfried Keller Foundation, inv. 1947-0042 Photo Musée d'art et d'histoire, Geneva. Photography: Bettina Jacot-Descombes

Jean-Etienne Liotard, Archduchess Marie-Antoinette of Austria, 1762

Some portraits were not flattering

Liotard vowed to paint his subject as true as ‘God’ made them! So when a woman was heavily covered in makeup, Liotard would make her take it all off!  Mind you, few of his portraits  were not flattering, with the double chins, stubby arms, etc. But many people loved that he has captured them perfectly, flaws and all.

Pastels was a quicker medium to work with than oil paintings.Liotard would charged more money for his paintings than Joshua Reynolds, who disliked him.
He was  the portraitist for socialists and high royalty, painting portraits with many familiar faces such as Marie Antoinette and Madame Du Pompadour.

His portrait told stories within a still life. There are   delicate touches when Liotard depicts lace, silks and fur upon soft flesh.

 There you have it!

Would you like to have your portrait done?

Who is this Exhibition for? 
Those who enjoy:
- 18th Century Art
- Classical paintings
- Portraiture
- History

Please comment or tweet me, I love hearing what your thoughts are.

I hope you all enjoyed reading this!

Ticket Information

24 October 2015 — 31 January 2016

Admissions:  £11.50 (without donation £10). Concessions available. Friends of the RA and under 16s go free when with a fee-paying adult.

Saturday – Thursday 10am – 6pm
Friday 10am – 10pm

Christmas closures
Please note that the RA will be closed on the 24, 25, and 26 December 2015. On Friday 1 January 2016, the gallery will be open from 12 – 6pm.

For further information, please click here to go to the Official website.


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