Discover Liotard & The Lavergne Family Breakfast Exhibition Catalogue
Accompanies the exhibition at the National Gallery, London, 16 November 2023–3 March 2024.
Swiss artist Jean-Etienne Liotard (1702–1789) was widely revered in the eighteenth century for his luminous pastel portraits. Flamboyant and idiosyncratic, Liotard was unusually well travelled, crossing Europe several times over his career and spending four formative years in Constantinople. He worked at the courts of Vienna, Paris and London, as well as in commercial centres such as Lyon and Amsterdam, commanding eye-watering prices and becoming a celebrity wherever he went.
The Lavergne Family Breakfast (1754), the focus of this publication, depicts an elegantly dressed woman and a young girl, her hair still in paper curlers, sitting around a breakfast table drinking their morning coffee. It is one of Liotard’s largest and most ambitious pastels, and has long been called his masterpiece. Last exhibited in 1755 when he brought the work from Lyon to London, it had not been seen by the public until it was acquired by the National Gallery in 2019.
Illustrated with a selection of Liotard’s exquisite pastels, oils, drawings and miniatures, chapters provide an overview of the artist’s extraordinary, itinerant career; a study of the delicate medium of pastel; an in-depth discussion about The Lavergne Family Breakfast; and an exploration of Liotard’s lifelong fascination with porcelain.
Francesca Whitlum-Cooper is Acting Curator of Later Italian, Spanish, and 17th-century French Paintings at the National Gallery, London.
Iris Moon is Associate Curator of European Sculpture and Decorative Arts at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.