Maurice-Quentin de La Tour (French, 1704-1788)
Pastel on paper 
18 x 15 in. (45.7 x 38.1 cm) 
Credit Line:
Norton Simon Art Foundation 
Accession Number:
© 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.


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.

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