* 1702 Genf
† 1789 Genf
Jean-Étienne Liotard is regarded one of the most important Rococo pastel painters.
Jean-Étienne Liotard was born son of a jeweler in Geneva in 1702. Jean-Étienne Liotard received first training from the miniature painter Daniel Gardelle in Geneva before he changed to the studio of J.-B. Massé in Paris in 1723.
After a disappointing candidature for the prize of the Parisian Academy, he specialized entirely on portrait art, following the advice of Le Moine. In detailed, light and smooth pastel- and miniature painting he made numerous portraits that are characterized by their tremendous tenderness and internalization. These works soon made for his reputation as a great portray painter.
With the support of the French envoy Marquis de Puysieux, Jean-Étienne Liotard went on a journey to Rome in 1736. Besides the Old Masters, Jean-Étienne Liotard was especially occupied with the work of Correggio; additionally, he canvassed important new clients.
In Florence Jean-Étienne Liotard came in contact with Sir William Ponsonby, whom he joined on an extensive journey through the Orient as of 1738. In Constantinople Jean-Étienne Liotard even settled for no less than five years. The painter was so fascinated by the strange culture that he even adopted the local clothing and lived after his new home's customs and habits.
However, Jean-Étienne Liotard returned to Europe. In 1743 the painter arrived Vienna, wearing a turban and a long beard. There he received numerous commissions from the court. The Austrian capital also was the place where he made his most famous work, the "Chocolate Girl" (today in the 'Gemäldegalerie' inDresden).
In the second half of the 1740s Jean-Étienne Liotard was also active in Venice, Darmstadt, Lyon and Geneva. In 1748, Jean-Étienne Liotard, who meanwhile had become famous all over Europe, returned to Paris, where he was active up until 1753. The internationally acknowledged portray artist was deluged with commissions from highest circles, even though competition with the highly paid portray artist Maurice Quentin de La Tour became clearly noticeable.
In 1753 Jean-Étienne Liotard was in Lyon for some time, before he traveled to London and finally to Holland. In 1757 he returned to Paris, before he eventually settled again in his native town Geneva after long years of traveling in 1758. Of course, the restless Jean-Étienne Liotard still went on journeys, however, Geneva remained center of his life, where he would be active for another three years.
In 1789 Jean-Étienne Liotard died in his hometown.