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Self-Portrait, 1764

Maurice-Quentin de La Tour

French, 1704-1788
Pastel on paper
18 x 15 in. (45.7 x 38.1 cm)
Norton Simon Art Foundation
M.2011.1.2.P
© 2012 Norton Simon Art Foundation

On view

Maurice-Quentin de La Tour carried the difficult and capricious pastel medium to a point of sheer technical brilliance not reached before or since. His mastery of pastels led not only to imitation but to fears that he would provoke a distaste for oil paint. La Tour was at his best when concentrating on the face alone. There is a suggestion of mobility in the features of his subjects, and the artist himself referred to "un peu d'exagération" that art allowed beyond nature. His self-portrait is marked by characteristics that aptly describe his style: the tremendous handling and technique, the humorous look to the eyes and the slight upturn of the lips, all of which lend a vivid actuality and personality to the sitter.

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