On the Internet, find the museum and search its online database for Jean-Étienne Liotard and find the work as Das Schokoladenmädchen.
Girl with Chocolate Pot, 18th century
An artist who so admired the work of Swiss painter Jean-Étienne Liotard that he copied a pastel drawing by Liotard in oil on canvas.
Girl with Chocolate Pot depicts a young maid carrying a tray with a chocolate pot and a glass of water. Chocolate was a luxury drink in the 18th century.
Unknown also, but the original pastel upon which the painting is based was created about 1744 / 45.
Why is this significant?
An artwork like Girl with Chocolate Pot gives the viewer a glimpse into the past, into a world that is 200 years older than now. The viewer is allowed a peek through an 18th century keyhole that shows the dress of a servant and one of her daily tasks at that time.
Make a connection:
Genre paintings are those that show everyday scenes. The Crocker Art Museum has many genre paintings from different times and places. Each one gives a peek into the past. Locate another genre painting from a different time and place and speculate about the world it shows.
This painting is very interesting, as we know nothing about the artist. We do not even know his name or when he lived. All we know is that he admired the 18th century Swiss artist Jean-Étienne Liotard’s original pastel of the young girl so much that he copied the work in oil on canvas. Jean-Étienne Liotard’s original work is in the collection of the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen in Dresden, Germany. Go to the Internet, find the museum and search its online database for Jean-Étienne Liotard and find the work as Das Schokoladenmädchen. The artist of the work in the Crocker Art Museum may have copied the work, because he wanted to learn how to paint like Liotard or because the painting was very popular. Artists learn by copying the work of other artists, and copying has been part of the training of artists for centuries.
Jean-Étienne Liotard was a traveling pastelist, painter and miniaturist in the 18th century. He was born in Geneva in 1702 and trained as a miniaturist (very small paintings) first in Geneva and then in Paris. He wanted to study at the French Royal Academy but he was unable to gain admittance. He then traveled to Italy in 1735 and to Constantinople in 1738 where he stayed for four years. While he was in the east, he adopted Turkish dress and a long beard. When he returned to Europe, he became a sensation and was known as the “Turkish painter.” He made many trips to Vienna, Paris, and London where he had a very successful career as a portraitist of wealthy aristocrats. He gained an international reputation for his care and skill in achieving an accurate likeness of his sitters. He made miniature portraits of the grandsons of the English King James II when he was in Italy and many portraits of members of the Hapsburg Dynasty, the rulers of the Holy Roman Empire, when he was in Vienna. He created painted miniatures in watercolor on ivory, drawings in chalk and pencil on colored paper, pastels on parchment as well as paintings in oil on canvas. Liotard died in Geneva in 1789.
About 18th Century French Art:
Much of the artwork created by Jean-Étienne Liotard was for the aristocracy (men of privilege and noble by birth) and those connected with the courts of Europe. This courtly style is called Rococo which was created in Paris and coincided with the reign of the French King Louis XV. Rococo art has a playful and superficial mood, uses sinuous S- and C-curved shapes, is a light, graceful and delicate style and frequently uses the colors white, silver gold, light pinks, blues and greens. The artist François Boucher became a favorite artist of the French king’s mistress Madame de Pompadour and the principal designer for Sèvres porcelain as well as the Beauvais tapestry works.
In addition to this court style, another kind of painting was popular in 18th century France, and its subject matter was not the lifestyle of the “rich and famous” but rather still lifes and scenes of everyday life from the middle-class. The greatest French painter of this other kind of painting was Jean Simèon Chardin. He liked to paint still lifes and figures, mainly women and children, engaged in simple acts of daily life. Dutch and Flemish scenes of peasant life which had gained a new prominence during the 17th century, the golden age, of Dutch painting in Holland had been popular for a long time with French collectors. Instead of paintings of energetic Dutch and Flemish peasants, however, Chardin depicted adults and children absorbed in activities that required quiet concentration and are caught in a moment of arrested motion. His figures are as quiet and motionless as the still lifes he painted of domestic objects. Chardin captured the most simple of daily tasks: a woman writing a letter, a man playing cards, a maid peeling vegetables, a little boy blowing bubbles, and a nurse preparing a meal for someone sick. His modest paintings were popular with all classes of society, even the aristocracy. Chardin’s technique was slow and painstaking and because he painted genre scenes which were not highly valued, he earned little. In fact he often copied his own compositions, as in the 18th century creativity resided in the artists’ original idea and copies by the original artist were not considered less valuable.
Title and date: Girl with Chocolate Pot, 18th century
Artist and dates: unknown
The Swiss artist Liotard also created a painting of A Lady pouring Chocolate which belongs to the National Gallery in London. In the painting the woman makes chocolate for herself and an unseen companion. Chocolate was a luxury drink during the 18th century and thus not enjoyed by everyone, only those who could afford it. In the Crocker Art Museum’s painting by the artist who admired Liotard, a young girl carries a tray with a chocolate pot and a glass of water. She stands erect and carries the tray in both hands, seeming to concentrate on her task. She is probably a servant, bringing the chocolate to her mistress.
The artist attracts the viewer’s attention by using pink in the girl’s cap edged with lace and red/brown in the bodice of her dress. Over her dress she wears a sparkling clean white apron. The young girl is seen in profile against a neutral background.
http://bildarchiv.skd-dresden.de “Das Schokoladenmädchen” 2/25/09.
Carol Strickland, PH.D. The Annotated Mona Lisa, Second edition, Andrews McMeel Publishing, LLC, 2007.
www.frick.org “Special Exhibition: Jean-Étienne Liotard (1702 – 1789): Swiss Master” 2/25/09.
www.getty.edu “Jean-Étienne Liotard” 2/25/09.
www.nga.gov “Tour: 18th-Century France – Chardin and Portraiture Overview,” “Tour: 18th-Century France – Boucher and Fragonard Overview” 2/26/09.
www.nationalgallery.org.uk “A Lady pouring Chocolate” 2/25/09.
www.metmuseum.org “Genre Painting in Northern Europe” 2/25/09.