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Discover Liotard's 'The Lavergne Family Breakfast'


The National Gallery today announces the forthcoming exhibition Discover Liotard and the Lavergne Family Breakfast, opening autumn 2023. 

For the first time in 250 years, this exhibition will reunite the pastel masterpiece by Swiss artist Jean-Etienne Liotard (1702–1789), painted in Lyon in 1754, with the painted version in oil he completed in London almost 20 years later.

This is the second in a series of ‘Discover’ exhibitions staged in the National Gallery’s Sunley Room which explore well-known paintings in the collection through a contemporary lens.

The exhibition will introduce viewers to the delicate medium of pastel, showcasing both the raw materials and a selection of Liotard’s highly finished works in pastel. The reunion of the pastel and oil works by Liotard will also allow visitors to appreciate and compare the different techniques and effects of both mediums.

Long regarded as his masterpiece both by art historians and by Liotard himself, The Lavergne Family Breakfast entered the National Gallery’s collection in 2019 from the estate of George Pinto (1929–2018), art collector and patron of the Gallery, under the Acceptance-in-Lieu scheme. Last exhibited when Liotard brought the pastel from Lyon to London in 1754, it had not been seen in public since.

Executed across more than six sheets of paper, 'The Lavergne Family Breakfast' is Liotard’s largest and most ambitious pastel. It depicts a breakfast between an elegantly dressed woman and a young girl, whose hair is still in paper curlers. Between the two lies a luxurious breakfast still life. Although not strictly a portrait, the sitters have long been associated with relatives of Liotard’s, the Lavergne family, who lived in Lyon.

The exhibition will also focus on Liotard’s place within the 18th-century. Liotard travelled widely, crossing Europe several times throughout his career. He spent four formative years in Constantinople, after which he donned Turkish clothes, grew a knee-length beard and presented himself as 'the Turkish painter'. A group of black and red chalk drawings made on his travels will illustrate these journeys, while a selection of self portraits in different media will bring this quirkiest of 18th-century artists to life. Alongside Liotard’s own travels, the journeys implicit in the enjoyment of coffee, sugar and Japanese porcelain seen in the picture will also be examined.

Exploring the pastel medium, Liotard’s itinerant career, and the stories behind the objects he depicts, this exhibition seeks to put Liotard and The Lavergne Family Breakfast in the spotlight.


The Sunley Room exhibition programme is supported by the Bernard Sunley Foundation

Notes to editors

Image credits

Jean-Etienne Liotard
'The Lavergne Family Breakfast', 1754
Pastel on paper stuck down on canvas, 80 × 106 cm
The National Gallery, London

The National Gallery

The National Gallery is one of the greatest art galleries in the world. Founded by Parliament in 1824, the Gallery houses the nation’s collection of paintings in the Western European tradition from the late 13th to the early 20th century. The collection includes works by Bellini, Cézanne, Degas, Leonardo, Monet, Raphael, Rembrandt, Renoir, Rubens, Titian, Turner, Van Dyck, Van Gogh and Velázquez. The Gallery’s key objectives are to enhance the collection, care for the collection and provide the best possible access to visitors. Admission free. 

The Bernard Sunley Foundation

The Sunley Room was established at the National Gallery in 1984 and the Foundation has supported the exhibition programme in the Sunley Room every year since 1990. The Bernard Sunley Foundation is a family grant-making foundation which supports charities in England and Wales that deliver a real community focus and provide greater opportunities for the young, the elderly, the disabled and the disadvantaged. 

Also on display at the National Gallery at the same time:

The Credit Suisse Exhibition: Frans Hals (30 September 2023 – 21 January 2024)

Pesellino: A Renaissance Master Revealed (7 December 2023 – 10 March 2024)

'National Gallery Artist in Residence: Céline Condorelli' (13 September 2023 – 7 January 2024)

National Gallery Press Office on 020 7747 2865 or email 
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