a girl carries a tray with a porcelain chocolate cup and a glass of water
© SKD, Foto: Wolfgang Kreische

“The most beautiful pastel ever seen.”

This exhibition focuses on one of the most famous works in the Dresden Gemäldegalerie, The Chocolate Girl by the Genevan artist Jean-Étienne Liotard (1702–1789). Liotard enjoyed great success and was highly acclaimed as a pastel painter in his own day; even the most famous artist working in this medium at the time, Rosalba Carriera, declared The Chocolate Girl to be “the most beautiful pastel ever seen”.

  • DATES 28/09/2018—06/01/2019
  • Opening Hours 10—18 o'clock, Monday closed
    24/12/2018, 10—14 o'clock  (Christmas Eve)
    25/12/2018, 10—18 o'clock  (Christmas Day)
    26/12/2018, 10—18 o'clock  (Boxing Day)
    31/12/2018, 10—18 o'clock  (New Year's Eve)
    01/01/2019, 12—18 o'clock  (New Year)
  • Admission Fees Admission Fees: normal 12 €, reduced 9 €, under 17 free, groups (10 persons and more) 11 € | Opening Hours: Daily 10 am to 6 pm, Friday 10 am to 8 pm, Closed on Monday
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“The most beautiful pastel ever seen.” The Chocolate Girl by Jean-Étienne Liotard
“The most beautiful pastel ever seen.” The Chocolate Girl by Jean-Étienne Liotard

[Translate to English:] Text 2_Neu

It was thanks to the art dealer Algarotti, who purchased the “Chocolatière” directly from the artist for the Dresden Pastellkabinett in 1745, that the Gallery began to show works by contemporary artists. The pastel medium suited the Rococo taste for lifelike, brilliant portraits: Liotard created flawless, porcelain-smooth surfaces. The enormous popularity of the picture, however, also rests on the fact that it depicts a simple, unidentified housemaid, a hitherto rare motif.

a girl carries a tray with a porcelain chocolate cup and a glass of water
© SKD, Foto: Wolfgang Kreische
Jean-Étienne Liotard, The Chocolate Girl, c. 1744

[Translate to English:] Text 3_Neu

The “Chocolatière” is serving an unidentified lady with a breakfast beverage – a cup of hot cocoa. This costly, exotic commodity became extremely fashionable as a luxury drink at the courts of Europe in the 18th century. Its exclusivity was conveyed, among other things, through the expensive porcelain cups, standing on silver or gold saucers, in which the drink was served. With his precise observation, Liotard anticipated not only the art of the Enlightenment but also 19th-century realism.

a girl carries a tray with a porcelain chocolate cup and a glass of water
© SKD, Foto: Wolfgang Kreische
Jean-Étienne Liotard, The Chocolate Girl, c. 1744, Detail

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Both the numerous copies produced in pastel or oil from the 18th century onwards and the countless later prints and photographic reproductions of this image have contributed to its widespread popularity and international reception. In the 19th century The Chocolate Girl also became a very popular figure in folk art and in advertising.

[Translate to English:] Text 5_Neu

In this exhibition, The Chocolate Girl is being presented for the first time in the context of Liotard’s oeuvre as a whole. More than 100 outstanding works, including around 40 paintings on loan from major international institutions, private collections and ten of the museums in the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, provide insights into Liotard’s artistic achievements. More than 40 pastels, oil paintings, drawings and prints illustrate the versatility of this artist, who produced not only portraits in pastel and genre scenes and still-lifes in oil, but also miniatures, figure and costume studies, as well as engravings.

Maria Theresa with wig and in yellow dress
© Schloss Schönbrunn Kultur- und Betriebsges.m.b.H., Foto: Johannes Wagner, Sammlung Oesterreichische Nationalbank
Jean-Étienne Liotard, Maria Theresa in fur trimmed dress, 1743 Collection Oesterreichische Nationalbank, Permanent loan in Schloss Schönbrunn, Vienna

[Translate to English:] Text 6_Neu

The artist himself who, inspired by his travels through the Ottoman Empire and the principality of Moldavia, sported a luxuriant beard and fur cap and styled himself “le peintre turc” (the Turkish painter) is also featured in the exhibition. During his successful stay at the court of Maria Theresa in Vienna from 1743 to 1745, he not only painted The Chocolate Girl but also came into close personal contact with the monarch and was able to paint numerous portraits of her, including some in which she is dressed in Turkish costumes.

Pastel, Self-Portrailt with with long beard and fur cap
© SDD, Foto: Jürgen Karpinski
Jean-Étienne Liotard, Self-Portrait in Turkish Costume, c. 1746

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Two interactive media stations provide additional information, one about the many journeys through Europe undertaken by Liotard, and the other about the technique of pastel painting, which is explained using the findings of scientific investigations performed on The Chocolate Girl. Thanks to the support of the time-honoured Paris manufacturer “La Maison du Pastel”, it is possible to see how high-quality pastels are produced.

a girl carries a tray with a porcelain chocolate cup and a glass of water
© SKD, Foto: Wolfgang Kreische
Jean-Étienne Liotard, The Chocolate Girl, c. 1744, Detail

[Translate to English:] Publikation

publication to the special exhibition

“The most beautiful pastel ever seen” The Chocolate Girl by Jean-Étienne Liotard in the Dresden Gemäldegalerie

Hg. Stephan Koja, Roland Enke, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, 272 pages, (ISBN: 978-3-7774-3134-5, 34,90 €)

Buchcover mit Frau, die Tablett mit Kakao trägt

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