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Errata for the Liotard exhibition catalogue

8 January 2016

liotard-hardback-webThe Liotard exhibition at the Royal Academy nears its close, but the catalogue will remain a source of reference far more widely available than the definitive catalogue raisonné of Roethlisberger & Loche (2008) from which so much of its material is derived. My offer to read the manuscript before printing was declined, and inexplicably some of my corrections on pages I did see were ignored. Readers may however find the following errata and comments of some use. I have overlooked printing errors and copy-editing conventions (I favour a different approach in particular to foreign proper names). References to the Dictionary below are to documents on the site.

Introductory text (by page number)

p. 14 Daniel Gardelle was born in 1679, not 1673.

p. 14 Liotard competed for the Académie royale prix in 1732, not 1735 (see my post).

p. 23 Diderot’s words were written in 1770, rather later than the context suggests.

p. 23 The suggestion that Rosalba Carriera painted a single group portrait of the Viennese imperial family arises out of the faulty 1757 English translation. The original German (Keyßler’s letter was written 6 Sep 1730 and published in Hannover in 1751) makes it clear that these times applied to each of the portraits she made of the members of the court (one by one: Rosalba never made a group portrait).

p. 23 Whether pastel is derived from pastillum or pastillus is debatable (see my Prolegomena for a fuller discussion), but it isn’t from both.

p. 24 Delormois’s comment related not to Stoupan’s pastels, but to his red dye.

p. 24 “as long as the glossy side was not used”: this is a misreading of Constant de Massoul, confusing it with the selection of parchment. On p. 25 “the smooth side [of vellum] used as the painting surface”: not normally; most pastellists used the other side; if the smooth side was used, it had to be roughened. In the bibliography, Constant de Massoul appears under M; Constant was the family name, and he was Pierre-Barthélemy-Marie-Reine-Joseph-Alexandre de Constant de Massoul (1755–1813).

p. 24 Fig. 9 caption: These loose ends from Russell were presumably collected after his death, so the description of “late eighteenth century” is curious.

p. 25 Sizes of glass: Vivien made pastels far larger than anything Liotard did, at the end of the 17th century. Cost, not technology, was the issue: see my Prolegomena.

p. 39 “Mary Beauclerk (fig. 23)” and p. 40 caption to fig. 23 “Mary Beauclerk, later Lady Charles Spencer, 1754”: Mary Beauclerk (1743–1812) married Lord Charles Spencer in 1762. As she’s evidently more than 11, R&L’s dating to c.1774 must be right. On p. 98 we are told that “Mary Beauclerk” or “Lady Spencer” [sic] was painted by Liotard, and “several years later” by Reynolds, in 1766, from which it appears that that author thought the pastel was done in 1762.

p. 40 Lady Fawkener was not Sir Everard’s wife during Liotard’s sojourn there; she did not marry him until 1747.

p. 50 Thomassin should be Thomasset; she was Swiss (from Orbe, Vaud), but not Genevan. See a forthcoming post on my blog.

p. 66 Margaret Fremeaux died in 1801.

p. 70 “The National Gallery…conserves a magnificent portrait by Liotard” contradicts the caption to fig. 44: “Jean-Etienne Liotard and a later, unknown, hand”. As to the proposed identifications, the topic is too complicated to explore here.

p. 91 “none of whom he named”: but everyone would have known that Rouquet’s descriptions referred to Cotes and Hoare in all but name.

p. 91 “in 1797 Francis Cotes …cited Liotard’s portraits”: Cotes died in 1770; his manuscript was published long after.

p. 92 There are numerous discussions in the catalogue of the extended hand pointing gesture (here, and on pages 19, 50, 71, 184, 196). It would illuminate them to know that La Tour is supposed to be pointing to his friend the abbé Huber who is trying to get into the studio in the background; whether or not that story is apocryphal, Liotard described his own self-portrait laughing (cat. 1) unambiguously in the French version of the catalogue for his London 1773 exhibition: “Son portrait, riant et montrant ce qui le fait rire.” Figure 45 reproduces the Geneva version of the La Tour, but this is not the version exhibited in 1737 as note 9 on p. 217 has.

p. 92 “Henry Fox, 1st Baron Holland, the de facto Prime Minister under Walpole’s father, Sir Robert Walpole” has been garbled.

p. 93 “to paint the daughters of William Stanhope, 2nd Earl of Harrington”, and n.14 p. 217: “painted the portrait of Stanhope (R&L… no. 453)”, but R&L 453 is a portrait of Philip, Earl Stanhope, not of Lord Harrington.

p. 93 I discovered the reference to the portrait of Rigby (who was not to become Chief Secretary for Ireland for another four years), but in his letter he is to “coterize again” not with Liotard, but with Mrs Pitt.

p. 94 For “an earlier oil” read “a later copy”.

p. 95 The Liotard pastels hung not in the King’s Library but his Bedchamber (the heading of this section is on the previous page in Francis Russell’s article, not to be confused with the caption of the illustration). The matter is more important than it may seem.

p. 95 The print of Prince Henry was sold by Liotard in Golden Square, and by [someone else] at the Golden Head (the comma is significant). That someone else was Thomas Major; see below under cat. 32.

p. 95 & p. 193 The significance of the 13 March 1755 advertisement in the Public Advertiser (which I published some time ago) lies mainly in altering our understanding of the length of the Lyon trip. It’s hard to see any reason why his object was to finish Edward Augustus when the only evidence is its still appearing unfinished. (Its condition makes its initial appearance impossible to determine.)

p. 96 “after moving from Ingress Abbey”: in fact Duncannon bought Ingress just five years before, and his wife died there in 1760. Cavendish Square was an additional, not an alternative, home.

p. 97: “In 2015, when the work was removed from its frame for photography, it was discovered that…”. Metadata on the V&A photograph on their website indicates that it was taken 5 Feb (or 2 May) 2009, although it would have been helpful if the V&A had told us earlier (assuming the metadata are correct).

p. 97 “Viscountess Duncannon regards us”: no, this is the Marchioness of Hartington.

p. 98 “commission Liotard received from Earl Spencer”: he was plain Mr John Spencer at that stage. Passim: The catalogue goes to great length throughout to give Duncannon his name at the relevant date; perhaps a covering note could have avoided the constant repetition of “Hon. William Ponsonby, Viscount Duncannon, later 2nd Earl of Bessborough.”

p. 99 On Mountstuart’s price see Grosley 1771 and the Coutts accounts as well as Liotard’s own version cited.

p. 99 “Liotard returned to London in 1773”: no, by November 1772.

p. 101 “the portrait Liotard made of Hamilton”: there were several.

p. 101 “On 5 April 1773, he organised a sale in Great Marlborough Street”. This was not an auction on a specific day, but rather a selling exhibition over a number of months. The advertisements (which I’ve cited online and will include in a forthcoming post) indicate that the exhibition opened on 1 February 1773 (a Monday) and was still open on 31 March that year; it probably closed soon after, but the exact date is unknown.

p. 101 “through Christie’s saleroom on 16 April 1774”. The sale started on 15 April. As the lot numbers start again the second day, this can be quite confusing.

p. 129 “his only documented student outside his family”: It is true (but so obscure I doubt if the author had it in mind) that Louis-Ami Arlaud was a very distant relation of Liotard; he was Liotard’s only recorded apprentice. Another documented pupil, but anonymous for now, was involved in the Rousseau fiasco. See the main Dictionary article and this post for more.

p. 129 Unsurprisingly, given its content, the story from Mme de Faverolles [Elisabeth Brossun de Méré (1751–1829)] is fictional, from a volume described by a bibliographer as a “rapsodie sans valeur.” The “female client” who “ceded priority to a member of the nobility” was, in the source, a fermière générale, and so surely noble, while the duchesse was not noble, but royal.

p.130 “Louis XV’s heir Princess Louise-Elisabeth”: Madame Infante had no rights of inheritance from her father under French law. It would have been preferable to give Mesdames de France their normal titles throughout.

p. 130 “The catalogue of these exhibitions designated Liotard as ‘Peintre ordinaire du Roi’, a title that assured his success through royal connections.” In fact a great many unsuccessful artists used this title (or the two other versions Liotard used in the three salons).

p. 130 “Highly complimentary reviews…ensured…”: no. Read them in full in the online Dictionary (p. 5 of this pdf), making allowances for the conventions of the day.

p. 131: “she also sat for François-Hubert Drouais”: I doubt if many Drouais experts accept the Met painting as of La Favart.

p. 132 “Nor did it fail to seduce Flaubert”: what he actually said was double edged (for R&L, “du plus profond mépris”).

p. 132 “Liotard took the portrait [of Mme Necker] with him to Vienna in 1777 where Maria Theresa greatly admired it, and persuaded Liotard to sell it to her that year.” No; she bought it in 1762. See my post and cat. 73 below.

p. 132 Fig 56. Dimensions reversed.

p. 133 ties with Peter Thellusson. It is not made clear that Peter was Isaac-Louis’s brother. For “by her sister’s marriage to Isaac-Louis’s brother” read “by her sister-in-law’s marriage to another of Isaac-Louis’s brothers.”

p. 169 François Tronchin was not the brother, but a second cousin, of Théodore.

p. 170 L’Art d’aimer et de plaire was the subtitle of the play Zélide by Renout. Although not printed until a few years later, copies appear to have been in circulation. But I agree the proposal is speculative at present.

pp. 174/5 A plea to publishers never to spread images across pages like this.

Note on supports

It is practically impossible to tell the species of animal from which vellum or parchment has been prepared from its appearance, particularly if the work has not been unframed. R&L (who in many cases were unable to view works in the conditions required to make a determination of suitability for travel) judiciously used the word parchemin to refer to either, as I usually do in the Dictionary (but for convenience I use “vellum” below). The catalogue nevertheless uses the two terms as though the species has been determined in each case; I can see no reason to suggest that the four examples (cats 5, 35, 80 and 81) labelled “parchment” are in fact of sheep or goatskin. I suspected the terms were simply copied from R&L, but one is a change (R&L 570 is silent on the support described in cat. 81 as parchment).

But the confusions highlighted below are not only between species. The authors do not describe Liotard’s frequent use of prepared supports (see my Prolegomena) where a thick, opaque coating has been applied, often making the determination of the support impossible without unframing.

Catalogue entries (by cat no)

3. Is the support vellum? One very respected paper conservator thinks that it is on paper. Without seeing it out of the frame (which apparently has not been done) it is impossible to be sure, or to understand the cause of the cockling and the small tear in the lower right.

5. See my post. The date of this must I think be 1770 or before, and the girl may indeed be the fille cadette, i.e. Marie-Thérèse Liotard, not Marianne. The title of the print after Chardin is misspelled.

11. Nelthorpe died in 1767, as we know from the Evening Post. “provides the terminus date”, i.e. terminus ante quem rather than post quem.

12. The painting appears to be catalogued as by Liotard, and as c.1739–40. But the logic of the entry is that it is either by Liotard and after 1753, or if c.1739–40, by someone else. For what it’s worth (not much, since it’s not a pastel), my money is on the latter.

21. This is R&L 220, not 222 (confusing in view of the multiple versions).

27–32 on p. 193. The portrait of Augusta is on vellum, not paper. The only surviving document (Royal Archives 55448: transcribed independently by Oliver Millar in 1963 and Roethlisberger & Loche 2007) is the 15 August 1755 receipt for “4 portraits en pastel avec leurs bordures & glaces Guinnees 108”, “no doubt following an earlier invoice”; it is not clear how the author inferred that the price was “18 guineas for a pastel…with further fees added for frames and glazing” (unless he has found the invoice). The portraits have remained in the Royal Collection, but normally at Windsor, not London. See also comment on p. 95.

28/29. In 28 we are told George’s hair is “either powdered or he wears a wig”; 29, a version of the same image, he “probably wears a wig”.

30. Confusions about Princess Elizabeth Caroline’s dates stem from the fact that she was born 30 December 1740 old (Julian) style, which was 11 January 1741 in modern reckoning. As she died in September 1759, this was not “just after” her eighteenth birthday in any system. As for the enamel by Sykes, of which there is a signed version, and the pastel copy with different colouring, see my post.

31. It is hard to see why Louisa Anne’s age is given as 6 when the work is dated 1754. The relative ages of the princesses argue that this pastel should be placed as early as possible (see my post).

32. Henry Frederick only became Duke of Cumberland 12 years later. The markings on the cards may have faded: the print makes it clear that the upper card on its side is the 4♠. The entry (but not the passage on p. 95) states that “Liotard engraved the image himself.” The proof copy recently acquired by the Rijksmuseum (Bulletin, lxii, 2014, p. 80, which should have been cited if it is being relied upon), if indeed the annotations are Liotard’s, may confirm his close involvement (although I have to say that I find it difficult to see that any of the markings has resulted in a change to the finished state of the print, as in the British Museum copy), but I think we can be sure Liotard would have claimed the full credit in the legend had he been solely responsible. But as stated he supervised/collaborated with an unnamed artist, who, from the second retailing address printed (this is where this particular print, not “such etchings” generally, were sold), was possibly the French-trained engraver Thomas Major, who left a fascinating account of his confinement in the Bastille in 1746. Major was also the retailer for the print of La Liseuse, engraved by Daullé and Ravenet.

33. I doubt if “most” of the 270 depictions were “by the leading painters of the day”. There were not “five additional” sessions, but four. I found the Folger drawing, but after discussions with Marcel Roethlisberger concluded it was more likely to be a copy: it is hard to see how a preliminary study would have fitted into the schedule.

34. Much is made of the impasted areas on this (and several other examples) which are described as gouache. They may be; but it is possible to get these effects by moistening the tip of a pastel stick. Alternative pastellists often ground pastel crayons and mixed them with water to create a paint effectively indistinguishable from gouache. The term gouache is best reserved for uses where the brushstrokes remain visible.

35. “Parchment”: see note above. The theory that buttoned stomachers were the English versions of this dress is somewhat undermined by the sitter in the Munich pastel: her tête de mouton hairstyle proclaims her as a fully paid-up French fashionista.

36. Lady Anne’s title arose through her being the daughter of an earl, not the wife of a commoner. Her daughter was never named “Lady” Anne Conolly. (Essentially the same point occurs on p. 39 “Lady Charles Tyrell”.)

37 The dimensions (50×48.5 cm) are wrong and should probably be 60×48.5 cm. There is no doubt that she died in 1766.

38. The support here may be paper, but the important point is that it has been “prepared” (see note above) making it impossible to determine what is underneath without unframing it.

39. This duplicates the discussion on p. 98, with the same comment as above. The description of the Vandyke costume is oddly phrased. As the secret marriage took place on 20 December 1755, it is difficult to fit the wedding portrait theory into Liotard’s chronology.

40. The dimensions are not 39.2×33.6 cm, but approximately 53×45 cm.

42. Mme de Pompadour’s hat in the Van Loo is a silk-lined straw hat, suitable for the guise of jardinière in that portrait. Lady Fawkener’s hat is far more formal.

45. Given the complexity of the story of the reattribution of this pastel it is astonishing that R&L, who rejected it, is cited but not my article in the British Art Journal (you can find an earlier version online here) nor Roethlisberger’s revision in 2014. It was of course Anne, not her father, who “sat not only for Liotard etc.” The idea that Liotard supplied the same dress to his sitters is a little simplified: the patterns in each case are slightly varied, as I discuss in my article.

46. On vellum, not paper. Liotard exhibited at the Royal Academy not four, but “Five portraits in crayons”; Walpole’s comment was “Himself, very bold; Dr Thompson, admirable; Lord Duncannon, General Cholmondeley”, not exactly as printed. That Walpole recognised only four is no evidence that the fifth was omitted. These errors, however minute, are all the more surprising since the author published an article about the portrait of Dr Thompson (the correct identification, as of Duncannon’s tutor rather than a physician, will be found in the Dictionary).

48. This is on three sheets of paper. It was Constable’s father who changed his name from Tunstall long before William was born. I think the entry reads too much into the inventory’s description of “in the dress of Rousseau”: that surely meant style, not the actual costume.

49/50. The zecchino/pound exchange rate was about 2:1, not 1:1. The miniature (RCIN 29019) does not reverse the direction of the Liotard portrait, the image on the Royal Collection website was reversed, as you can see from the older photograph on the same site; it would be inconceivable for any depiction of the prince to show him wearing the Saint-Esprit.

51-54 p. 202. Liotard’s work appeared in a public exhibition in 1737. An invoice from Marc Vibert, the maker of the frames in the Stupinigi group, shows that they were in Parma by 1754; see the Dictionary for further details.

51. It is curious to describe Louis “le bien-aimé” as “not esteemed by his subjects”, or to cite the attempt by a lunatic as proof of this. As for the pastel itself, this deserves a longer discussion than this post permits, but one must note the difference in technique with the rest of the group, the support chosen and the evidence of the Rouquet copy.

52.“would be come to be known as Les Cordons Bleus”: holders of the Saint-Esprit were so termed, informally, from the previous century (see the 1694 edition of the Dictionnaire de l’Académie française). But it is not true that “members of the royal family were entitled to belong from birth.” Liotard did not sell the other portrait of the dauphin in 1771; that’s why it’s in the Rijksmuseum.

53. This is on vellum, not paper. Only her three youngest sisters were sent to Fontevraud. The full title, if you really wish to mention the Trianon, is Musée national des châteaux etc.

55–62 p. 204. The portrait of Maria Theresa now in Geneva was not presented to Etienne de Salles; that is an error on the Geneva website, and the full provenance, correctly given in R&L, through the Sales family, starts with the jeweller Jean-Jacques Pallard (1701–1776), who made chivalric insignia for the court (Etienne de Salles was born in 1739, and was far too young to be given an imperial present in 1762). It is odd to refer to the future emperor as “Joseph Benedict”; a few contemporary sources have Joseph Benedikt August, but the Archduke Joseph is far more common.

55. “oval miniatures, perhaps enamels, presumably painted by her” Isn’t she copying some of the famous cameos now in the Albertina Collection?

60. “unwinding a thread for sewing” She is knotting, not sewing; a respectable pursuit for princesses (cf. Nattier’s portrait of Madame Adélaïde).

63. The drawing of Algarotti in the Tate is by Jonathan Richardson, not Richards, and is dated to 1736, not the same time as the Liotard pastel. We don’t know which of the two versions is the “replica”, but it is unlikely that Raphael Morghen copied the Rijksmuseum version (Mengardi, the intermediate draughtsman, was a Venetian, and almost certainly used Algarotti’s version); the two entries in R&L may have been misread.

65. Favart is on multiple sheets of paper, not vellum.

67. Thellusson was a conseiller d’état in Geneva, not mayor. The mycosis reference is repeated on p. 133, where the source is cited as Zelger 1993, although it comes from an anonymous entry that appears after Zelger’s essay in the same exhibition catalogue.

68/69. Neither of these can be straightforwardly described as “pastel on vellum”. Monsieur is on a thick preparation where losses allow one to see through to the canvas support; the preparation was probably applied directly to it. Madame however is on two sheets, where the irregular overlap suggests a paper join, but the curious thinner application of preparation seems to have flowed as though over vellum. A definitive analysis requires them to be unframed. The analysis of the coloration appears to assume they were initially as seen; I think it more likely that Monsieur’s coat was originally red.

70. There are in fact three versions of this drawing. Diodati’s connections with the Tronchin family predated his marriage the the daughter of Théodore Tronchin: his mother, Anne, Mme Abraham Diodati, was the daughter of Jean Tronchin (1672–1761), whose portrait (and that of his wife Anne Molènes (1684–1767)) Liotard had already made.

71. This is not R&L no. 416, but it is discussed under the entry for that pastel. Since the two versions make the matter confusing, this one is fig. 599. It is difficult to see how both fig. 599 and fig. 598, the other version of the drawing, can both be the “preliminary study for the pastel”, or which if either should be regarded as such. The engraver was Gaillard, not Galliard.

72. There are plenty of long-sleeved dresses before the 1760s, including a number in the œuvre of Charles Coypel. One of them, La France rend grâce au ciel pour la guérison de Louis XV, may well have been an inspiration for this piece. On Mme de Vermenoux and Suzanne Curchod, see my post, where their relationship with Paul Moultou is explained.

73. See previous note, and my post about this. This pastel was acquired by Maria Theresa in 1762; Liotard was permitted to make a copy of it in 1778.

74. was not in the exhibition either in London or Edinburgh.

76. “woman serving hot chocolate to a young girl” in the pendant: it’s coffee, as Liotard’s own description makes clear. “the boy may be Jacques-Antoine’s nephew”: Liotard himself identifies the boy as a servant (“un laquais”) in his 1763 letter to Bessborough, which is far more specific than the passing reference to the “portraits of his nephews and nieces” on which this fanciful identification hinges. Readers might be interested in the boy with a candle which I discovered, and which may be the same sitter; it’s in the Dictionary, among the unknown sitters, and endorsed in Roethlisberger 2014.

77. It takes a little while to figure out from the entry that the object is a box with a sliding lid. I’m not sure that there is any “level of interpretation heretofore unapplied to Liotard’s art.”

78. “only two other examples in his œuvre”[of silk supports]. Not so; R&L lists the autoportrait (R&L 440) and the Clanbrassil pendants (R&L 491/2) as on silk.

79. The headline date is c.1770–83, while the text seems to accept R&L’s 1763–71.

80. Another example on a prepared surface, quite possibly over a very thin layer of vellum laid down on canvas. A reviewer has already commented on the relevance of the citations of Courbet and Morandi.


There are too many typos to list here: among them “une enchantresse au XIXe siècle” for XVIIIe; “Mémoires du Ministre du Duc d’Aiguillon” for “Mémoires du ministère du duc d’Aigullion”; Gaegtgens for Gaehtgens.


The colour printing seems to have gone quite badly wrong throughout the whole catalogue: these images were scanned with identical settings from the catalogue (p. 26) and from R&L (it seems from the same image) to give you an idea of the problem of definition (it is more difficult to explain the colour balance problems in an online post):

Liotard p26c



From → Art history

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