Jean-Étienne Liotard

  • 1702 - 1789
  • Artist
  • Swiss

Jean-Étienne Liotard first trained as a miniature painter in Geneva, where he mastered the extraordinary fineness of application that was to be the hallmark of his pastel style. While in his twenties he sought his fortune in Paris, where he studied in a prominent painter's studio. After rejection by the Académie Royale, he traveled to Italy, where he obtained numerous portrait commissions.

Liotard next embarked on a journey throughout the Mediterranean region and finally settled in Constantinople for four years. Intrigued by the native dress, he grew a long beard and acquired the habit of dressing as a Turk, earning himself the nickname of "the Turkish painter." While in Constantinople, he painted portraits of members of the British colony.

For the remainder of his life, Liotard traveled throughout Europe painting portraits in pastels. He gained an international reputation in this medium for his care and skill in achieving an accurate likeness of his sitters. At the age of seventy-nine, he published a treatise on the principles of painting, in which he explained his belief that painting is and should be a mirror of nature.