J.E. Liotard de Geneve surnommé le Peintre Turc peint par lui meme à Vienne 1744

Jean-Étienne Liotard, who became famous mostly for his pastels, was born and died in Geneva, but lived and worked most of his life in other places. He studied in Paris under François Lemoyne, who recommended him to the French ambassador to Naples. He spent a few years in Rome and accompanied Lord Duncannon to Constantinople, where he adopted Turkish costume and grew a beard. In 1742 he went to Vienna, where he drew this self-portrait, pastel on paper. He was forty-two years old.

This is not, as I originally thought, his oldest self-portrait to survive, there are at least two earlier ones, with the first dating back to his time in Paris ten years earlier. But it’s probably the first one to show him in Turkish garb with a beard.

Jean-Étienne Liotard: The Three Graces, pastel on parchment, drawn in 1737 when he was in Rome, now in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.

Pastel portrait of Charles-Joseph Natoire by Gustaf Lundberg. The year was 1741, Natoire was forty-one years old and had painted the Expulsion from Paradise in the year before.

In 1720, Antoine Watteau, who had been of frail health since childhood, travelled to London to consult Dr Richard Mead, one of the most fashionable physicians of his time and an admirer of Watteau’s work. However, London’s damp and smoky air offset any benefits of Dr. Mead’s wholesome food and medicines. Early in 1721 Watteau returned to France and spent his last few months on the estate of his patron, Abbé Haranger, where he died in July probably from tuberculosis before he reached the age of 37. The Abbé said Watteau was semi-conscious and mute during his final days, clutching a paint brush and painting imaginary paintings in the air.

It was during these last months of his life that Rosalba Carriera, who stayed in Paris in 1720/21, made this pastel portrait, the only one that has survived, or perhaps the only one ever made. Of an earlier self-portrait, we have only a crayon copy by François Boucher.

Rosalba Carriera left at least half a dozen self-portraits. This is the last one, from about 1740 or later. At the time, she was depressed because of the deaths of her sister Giovanna and her mother, and she was losing her eyesight. By 1746, aged 71, she was completely blind in spite of two painful cataract operations.

Rosalba Carriera was born in Venice in 1675. She started out painting lids for snuff boxes and miniature portraits and later switched to pastels. She was quite a celebrity in her time. This picture is called Flora and dates from 1730.