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Portrait of Charles-Benjamin de Langes de Montmirail, Baron de Lubières
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Jean-Étienne Liotard
Swiss, Switzerland, about 1760
Graphite and black, brown, and red pastels, with stumping and red gouache (recto); colored pastels with stumping (verso)
8 11/16 x 7 3/16 in.
2004.75

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For his portrait of Charles-Benjamin de Langes de Montmirail, the Baron de Lubières, Jean-Étienne Liotard drew on both sides of a thin sheet of cream-colored paper. On the verso surface, the artist delicately applied red and black pastels to achieve richer and more subtle degrees of tone and relief on the finely detailed recto. This novel technique is found in several of Liotard's portraits of the period and derives from the tradition of toning miniatures on ivory on the verso.

A wealthy and erudite amateur, the Baron de Lubières was part of the writer Voltaire's circle in Geneva and contributed several articles to Diderot's Encyclopédie. Replete with fur muff, the fashionably attired sitter is clearly a gentleman of his time. Despite the attention to dress, Liotard depicted his sitter without adornment. The Baron de Lubières is in profile against a plain background with little depth. Nothing is allowed to overshadow the close likeness of the sitter achieved by Liotard. And it is this close likeness, above all else, that is intended to speak of the Baron de Lubières as a man of singular refinement and distinction.