Jean-Étienne Liotard (1702-89): Swiss Master
The Frick continued to add to its holdings, and the 1997 gift of a painting inspired a major 2006 exhibition on the artist Jean-Étienne Liotard (1702-89). This presentation offered the public a singular opportunity to become better acquainted with one of the most original and engaging artists of eighteenth-century Europe, who enjoyed an international reputation in his day, often painting portraits of monarchs and their children in London, Vienna, Parma, and Amsterdam. Indeed, the Frick served as the only venue for this monographic survey of an artist who is little known even among specialists today and is rarely seen outside of collections in Geneva. Accompanied by a general introductory publication — the first in English — to the encyclopedic holdings of Liotard's work in Geneva, the exhibition comprised paintings, drawings, and engravings from the Musée d'art et d'histoire, as well as a selection of his pastels from private collections.
Liotard skillfully worked in a broad range of media, including oil, enamel, pastel, and engraving, as well as in gouache, chalk, and watercolor for his drawings. Trained as a portraitist, a miniaturist, and an engraver, Liotard was direct in his treatment of sitters, himself included. His keen attention to the physiognomic detail of his sitters and his careful rendering of them produced close likenesses that exemplified his realistic approach to painting. Audiences were be delighted and instructed by the artist's depictions of himself as well as his family, patrons, and contemporaries in a style that could truly be called a "mirror of nature."
Presentation of the exhibition was made possible, in part, through the generous support of Margot and Jerry Bogert; Melvin R. Seiden in honor of Jean A. Bonna and Inez and Yves Oltramare, with additional support from Inez and Yves Oltramare; Jean A. Bonna; Pro Helvetia, Arts Council of Switzerland; The Helen Clay Frick Foundation; and the Fellows of The Frick Collection. Transportation costs were generously underwritten by Swiss International Air Lines. The catalogue was made possible, in part, by Lawrence and Julie Salander.