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    Jean-Etienne Liotard (1702-1789) 'A Dutch girl at breakfast', c. 1756-57

    Jean-Etienne Liotard (1702-1789) ‘A Dutch girl at breakfast’, c. 1756-57

    A Dutch girl at breakfast by Jean-Etienne Liotard  is to be displayed at the Gallery or Honour in Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum from mid-January. An export licence for the work, recently purchased from a private collection where it has remained for more than 240 years, was granted today by the British government. Genevan pastellist Jean-Etienne Liotard (1702-1789) created it in the style of Dutch seventeenth-century masters during a long sojourn in Holland around 1756.  It is one of his few oil-paintings and an important addition to a group of pastels by Liotard in the Rijksmuseum since 1885.

    Taco Dibbits, General Director of the Rijksmuseum said: “A Dutch girl at breakfast radiates the same atmosphere of peace and simplicity as Vermeer’s Milkmaid. In this sensitive representation, the painter allows us to get very close to his subject. As the girl carefully opens the tap of the coffee-pot, she won’t allow herself to be disturbed by the millions of visitors who will come to see her. We are extremely grateful to the funds and private donors who made it possible to acquire this masterpiece for The Netherlands”.

    In this work Liotard reveals himself as one of the earliest 18th-century artists from abroad to put his fascination with Dutch painting of the 17th century into practice. All the characteristics of Dutch 17th-century “genre” are present: the everyday scene, the intimate ambiance, the sober colours, the sophisticated rendering of textures, and the painted church-interior in the background. Nevertheless the furnishings and tableware are all from Liotard’s own time. The mise-en-scène is strongly reminiscent of the well-known interiors of his predecessors Johannes Vermeer, Gerard Dou and Frans van Mieris. Liotard appears to have kept the A Dutch girl at breakfast for himself until 1774, when he included it in a sale of his collection in London. It was bought there by his principal British patron, the 2nd Earl of Bessborough (1704 – 1793), with whose descendants it has remained until now.   The Earl of Bessborough is a title in the Peerage of Ireland. It was created in 1739 for Brabazon Ponsonby, 2nd Viscount Duncannon, who had previously represented Newtownards and County Kildare in the Irish House of Commons.  The 2nd Earl was Whig politician who served as Lord of the Treasury, as a Lord of the Admiralty and as joint Postmaster General.

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