Maria Frederike van Reede-Athlone at Seven
How many times have you had your photo taken? How long did it take?

This girl lived 250 years ago—long before cameras were invented—so an artist had to paint her portrait. It was a long and tedious process, especially if the artist did the portrait in oils. But she was lucky. Swiss artist Jean-Étienne Liotard often used pastels to make his portraits.

Pastels are similar to colored chalk. Artists can work more quickly with pastels than with paints because pastels don't need time to dry. Even better, pastels don't create unpleasant odors like oil paints do.

The girl in this picture, named Maria, was seven years old when her portrait was made. She was the daughter of a count and countess. Her family must have liked her portrait because they also asked Liotard to make portraits of her mother and other members of the family.

Maria's shawl is made of blue velvet and fur. It's a piece of clothing that Liotard often painted people wearing. A small black dog sits on her lap and stares out at us, looking eager to hop right out of the painting.

Liotard was famous for his lifelike portraits. Many people wanted him to paint their pictures. He was sought after by the pope and by other religious and political leaders.

More Lucky Art Scoops!

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A Portrait in Pastels