PASTELS in Pieces is a new show at the J Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, Los Angeles, which provides the remarkable opportunity to explore a fundamental shift in the way 18th century pastel paintings were created.
During the 18th century, a revolution in the way pastel painters operated was taking place. Competition with oil painters led pastel artists to begin the joining together of several sheets of paper, in order to create a large expanse on which grander pieces could be imposed.
The director of the J. Paul Getty Museum, Timothy Potts says, “The Museum owns the largest pastel made in the eighteenth century, a portrait of the magistrate Gabriel Bernard de Rieux by Maurice-Quentin de la Tour. One of the highlights of our collection, it stands over six feet tall and is pieced together from 12 sheets of paper … It forms the centerpiece of the exhibition that will explain how these splendid objects were made.”
Portrait of Gabriel Bernard de Rieux, 1739-1741, Maurice-Quentin de La Tour
(French, 1704 – 1788). Pastel and gouache on paper mounted on canvas.
200.7 × 149.9 cm (79 × 59 in.). The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
The new technique also provided opportunity for further artistic development, such as the ability to work on different elements of the artwork separately, creating often fascinating miniature creations within the artworks themselves; whilst layering sheets offered pastel artists a more forgiving forum for creation.
by Daisy Sewell
Pastels in Pieces opens on January 16, 2018 and is on until July 29, 2018 at the J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, Los Angeles