The Pastel Journal

Smile of the French Enlightenment

No artist has handled pastel more adroitly than did Maurice Quentin de La Tour (1704–88). His portraits, perceptive in characterization and brilliant in technique, represent a virtual who’s who of the French Enlightenment. La Tour’s facility was hard earned. He was known to ceaselessly rework his pastels, sometimes spending years on a portrait, in the Art Institute of Chicago was drawn with this freshness of spirit.

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