Portrait of John, Lord Mountstuart, later 4th Earl
Lord Bute, who commissioned this portrait as a memento of his son's , was so pleased with it that he paid the artist twice the agreed-upon price. Exuding the self-possessed confidence of a young aristocrat, nineteen-year-old Lord Mountstuart leans against a mantel displaying the utmost in sumptuous French attire: a fur-lined winter suit of turquoise silk, lace collar and cuffs, white silk stockings, and diamond-buckle shoes. Jean-Étienne Liotard depicted the charismatic English nobleman in an elegant setting--a re-creation of a in Geneva appointed with furnishings such as ornamented with cherubs and a Chinese folding screen used to stop cold drafts. Above the mantel, Liotard depicted Mountstuart's handsome profile and dignified posture in a mirror. Lord Mountstuart, and to a lesser extent his reflection, are sharply depicted and project forward from the surrounding objects, which are blurred to create this optical illusion. This portrait is one of the largest pastels Liotard ever painted and the only one to show a full-length subject in a meticulously described interior. His skillful effects of scale, format, and illusion challenged the conventional medium of oil painting, and Liotard himself considered the work a masterpiece.
Pastel on vellum (1763)
by Jean-Étienne Liotard (Swiss, 1702-1789)
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