From The Collection Of… 1 in a series – Portrait of Maria Frederike van Reede-Athlone at Seven Years of Age via The Getty

From The Collection Of… is a new series highlighting the amazing artwork of the world that is discoverable — and shareable — on the Internet. Most museum collections contain far too many pieces to exhibit in their galleries, so locating these images online may be one of the only ways of enjoying them. Over the next year or so, I will be sharing my favorites from collections large and small, far and wide. Follow My Word now to enjoy this journey through the — often hidden away — world of art. 


Portrait of Maria Frederike van Reede-Athlone at Seven Years of Age via The Getty

This portrait always catches my eye as I walk through the Getty Center galleries. Unlike some pieces, this one is (almost) always on display as part of the permanent collection. The pastel gives it such a soft and glowing look and the rendering is so lifelike that it can’t help but attract the eye. I feel like I could almost touch the velvet and fur if I brushed the surface. Never a good idea to try that in the gallery though. (LAUGH) The wide-eyed pet dog staring back at us is comic and offers a relief to the rather serious pose of the sitter. — Douglas

From The Collection Of... - 1 in a series - Portrait of Maria Frederike van Reede-Athlone at Seven Years of Age via The Getty

Jean-Étienne Liotard (Swiss, 1702 – 1789)
Portrait of Maria Frederike van Reede-Athlone at Seven Years of Age, 1755–1756, Pastel on vellum
54.9 × 44.8 cm (21 5/8 × 17 5/8 in.), 83.PC.273
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

Changing attitudes towards children and the emergence of a large middle class in eighteenth-century Europe increased the demand for portraits of children such as this one. Maria Frederike, the seven-year-old daughter of an aristocratic Dutch family, looks off to the side in a three-quarter view. Lost in thought, she is composed yet somewhat shy in comparison to her dog, who stares out with unabashed curiosity. With startling naturalism, Jean-Étienne Liotard captured her youth and beauty, setting off her eyebrows, lashes, and lustrous hair against her soft, fresh complexion.

Liotard developed remarkable technical skills in the difficult medium of pastels. Brilliantly describing surfaces and defining volume through subtle gradations of color, he depicted forms, textures, and the play of light with great immediacy. He favored using pastels, especially for portraits of children, because they could be manipulated with greater speed and ease, had no odor, and allowed for frequent interruptions. — The Getty

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