Maurice-Quentin de La Tour (French, 1704-1788)
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.


  • Artist Name: Maurice-Quentin de La Tour (French, 1704-1788)
  • Title: Self-Portrait
  • Date: 1764
  • Medium: Pastel on paper
  • Dimensions: 18 x 15 in. (45.7 x 38.1 cm)
  • Credit Line: Norton Simon Art Foundation
  • Accession Number: M.2011.1.2.P
  • Copyright: © Norton Simon Art Foundation

Object Information

Sénateur Boittelle, Paris (sale, Paris, Hotel Drouot, 24-25 April 1866, lot 70, to);
Jacques Reiset (sale, Paris, Hotel Drouot, 29-30 April 1870, lot 39) to;
Laurent Laperlier (1805-1878), Paris (sale, Paris, Hôtel Drouot, 17-18 February 1879, lot 52, as Portrait de l'artiste, à lâge de cinquante ans, for 1305 francs to);
? Michel Levy; (possibly Henri-Michel Levy sale, Paris, Hôtel Drouot, 25 Mai 1905, lot 36, as Portrait du Maître; dimensions given as 39 x 30 cm; sold to Ackerman, 410 francs);
Camille Groult (1837-1908), Paris (sale by his heirs, Paris, Galerie Charpentier, 21 March 1952, lot 67, ill., as Portrait de l'artiste, for 1,400,000 francs to);
A. Costa du Rels, Bolivia (sale, London, Sotheby's, 5 July 1967, lot 99, ill., as Self-Portrait, to);
Robert Ellis Simon, Los Angeles, bequest 1969 to;
The Norton Simon Foundation;
Norton Simon Art Foundation.

Reinstallation of Galleries: Art History of the 17th and 18th Century Gains Fresh Dimension

  • Norton Simon Museum, 1993-09-02 to 1995-08-13

Three Centuries of French Art: Selections from The Norton Simon, Inc. Museum of Art and The Norton Simon Foundation_1

  • California Palace of the Legion of Honor, 1973-05-03 to 1976-06-15
  • The Burlington Magazine, p. xxi
  • Besnard, Albert; and Georges Wildenstein, La Tour: la vie et l'oeuvre de l'artiste, 1928,
  • Monda, M., Le Figaro, 1952,
  • Bury, Adrian, Maurice-Quentin de Latour: The Greatest Pastel Portraitist, 1971, p. 76
  • Selected Paintings at the Norton Simon Museum Pasadena, California, 1980, p. 76
  • Masterpieces from the Norton Simon Museum, 1989, p. 109
  • Time, 1992, pp. 64-65
  • Debrie, Christine, Maurice-Quentin de La Tour: Prince des pastellistes, 2000, pp. 54, 67
  • Campbell, Sara, Collector Without Walls: Norton Simon and His Hunt for the Best, 2010, cat. 363 p. 289
  • Neil Jeffares, La Tour, Autoportrait au jabot, 2021, J.46.1132 pp. 1-10, p. 2 (ill.)
  • Neil Jeffares, Maurice-Quentin de La Tour (1704-1788); Catalogue raisonné (online edition), 2023, J.46.1132 pp. 8-10, p. 10 (ill.)
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