Liotard was also a theorist. From the beginning, he practiced pastel rather than oil to ensure a "beau fini" (good finish), meaning a smooth picture without a visible trace from a brushstroke.
With the help from his patron Lord Duncannon later 2nd Earl of Bessborough whom he had accompanied in the Levant, the career of the "Turkish painter" was a lasting success, allowing the artist to gather a large collection of Dutch paintings of the seventeenth century.
It was tempting for the artist to imitate these masters. On July 6 in London, Sotheby's sells a genre scene in Holland, oil on canvas 47 x 39 cm painted by Liotard, lot 36 estimated £ 4M, which is certainly the most successful example of his "très beau fini".
The scene of great tranquility shows a young woman in apron busy pouring coffee (not chocolate despite a title later given to this work by comparison with one of his most famous pastels). The breakfast on the table is a miniature still life and the painting on the wall is a direct reference to the lighting effects in Dutch art.
Liotard probably made this painting for his personal use as a culmination of his know how. Undated, it appears at Christie's in 1774 in a sale of his collection. It was purchased by the Earl of Bessborough in whose family it remained until the death of the 10th Earl.
A contemporary of Chardin, Liotard wants to be a modern artist. The clothes and accessories of the Dutch woman and the decorative elements are contemporary. It is taken for sure that the work was painted during a trip in Holland, probably the stay of 1755-1756 which ended with his marriage and with the loss of his fifteen years beard that was a direct consequence.
SOLD for £ 4.4M including premium
The image is shared by Sotheby's on Wikimedia :