The Book, Cat, & Cat Book Lovers Almanac

of historical trivia regarding books, cats, and other animals. Actually this blog has evolved so that it is described better as a blog about cats in history and culture. And we take as a theme the advice of Aldous Huxley: If you want to be a writer, get some cats. Don't forget to see the archived articles linked at the bottom of the page.

December 22, 2016

December 22, 1702

Jean-Etienne Liotard (December 22, 1702 to June 12, 1789), a painter, was one of twin sons in a Huguenot family, who lived in Geneva after the French history of persecution of that group. His father was a jeweller. Jean-Etienne Liotard was famed later for his excellence as a portraitist, a miniaturist, and engraver.
His fame was such that he did portraits of Voltaire and Rousseau. Liotard traveled frquently and was friends with various European monarchs.
His Oxford Dictionary of National Biography article sketches what seems a busy life:

In 1735 Liotard was invited by the French ambassador to accompany him to Naples, which he did before going to Rome in 1736. There his sitters included Pope Clement XII and the Pretender, James Stuart. In Rome he met William Ponsonby, later earl of Bessborough, who invited Liotard to join him and Lord Sandwich on their journey to Constantinople in 1738. During the four years that Liotard spent in Constantinople he adopted Turkish costume, and grew the long beard seen in numerous self-portraits....

In 1742-6 Liotard went first to Moldavia at the invitation of the reigning prince Constantin Mavrocordato, then to Vienna, where he made a lifelong friend of the empress Maria Theresa, and then to Frankfurt, Venice, Karlsruhe, Geneva, and Lyons (where he had relatives), before returning to Paris in 1746. In Paris his companion, Mlle Nicolle, gave birth to a daughter whom he later adopted. A child born from his relationship with Mlle de L'Isle during his first stay in Paris had died young. Despite his professional success, Liotard failed to gain admittance to the Academie Royale. Instead he joined the Academie de St Luc, exhibiting at its salon in 1751, 1752, and 1753. At the 1752 salon he exhibited The Chocolate Drinker ...later bought in London in 1774 by Lord Bessborough. In 1749 or 1750 Liotard made a series of pastels of the French royal family and about 1750 he made his celebrated pastel
Young Woman in Turkish Costume Seated on a Divan ... This was a reprise of a drawing made some ten years earlier and was itself repeated about 1752-4 in his portrait Mary Gunning, Countess of Coventry (Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam). The Geneva pastel uses a highly original composition and a limited palette of the three primary colours to suggest a story of disappointed romance with a directness and lack of theatricality unusual in genre painting of the period. Liotard's appeal to an English clientele, which in Paris had included David Garrick and Lord Augustus John Hervey, was reinforced by a visit to London in 1753-5 when his sitters included Lady Maria Beauclerk (later Lady Spencer), Henry Fox (later the first Lord Holland), and, in oriental costume, Simon Luttrell. Horace Walpole noted Liotard's long beard, his high prices, and his great talent, a talent acknowledged by his being commissioned to portray each of the prince and princess of Wales and their nine children, and in The Gentleman's and Connoisseur's Dictionary of Painters (1770) Matthew Pilkington wrote of Liotard's 'astonishing force, and beauty of tint; [the] striking resemblance of his models; a remarkable roundness and relief; and an exact imitation of life and nature' (p. 351).

Jean-Etienne Liotard has done more than one scene involving cats. Here is
"Le Chat Malade", a lady tries to hold a cat while another tries to take the cat's pulse

Despite the comedic intent this scenario looks to me to be based on real life events.

No comments: