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Jean-Etienne Liotard (Geneva 1702-1789)
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Jean-Etienne Liotard (Geneva 1702-1789)

Portrait of Charles-Benjamin de Langes de Montmirail, Baron de Lubières

Jean-Etienne Liotard (Geneva 1702-1789)
Portrait of Charles-Benjamin de Langes de Montmirail, Baron de Lubières
with inscription 'Charles de Langes .... de Lubières, né 17.. mort 1790' on the original frame
black, red, orange and brown chalk, red bodycolour, the verso in black chalk rubbed with orange, yellow and brown chalk, watermark HR
(image size) 8 5/8 x 7¼ in. (220 x 185 mm.); (sheet size) 8 5/8 x 14½ in. (220 x 370 mm.); and two sheets of the same type of paper, one with a study of a head possibly by Liotard in brown and red chalk and the other with a light counterproof of the verso
Charles-Benjamin de Langes de Montmirail, Baron de Lubières by descent to his niece
Madame Saladin, born Marie-Charlotte de Langes de Lubières, by descent to her daughter
Madame Jean-Ferdinand de Grenus, born Anne-Caroline-Renée Saladin, by descent to her daughter
Madame Jean-Louis de Gallatin, born Antoinette-Marie de Grenus, by descent to her daughter
Madame Jean Achard-Tremblet, born Jeanne-Marie de Gallatin, by descent to her daughter
Mademoiselle Mathilde Achard, by descent to her niece
Madame Louis Achard, born Rachel Gautier.
J.-D. Candaux, 'Un auteur (et même deux) pour Idée, Induction, Probabilité: Monsieur de Lubières encyclopédiste', 1994, p. 76, illustrated.
E. Deuber-Pauli and J.-D. Candaux, Voltaire chez lui, Genève et Ferney, Geneva, 1994, p. 152, fig. 24.
Geneva, Musée d'Art et d'Histoire, and elsewhere, Dessins de Liotard, 1992, no. 106.
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Lot Essay

Charles-Benjamin de Langes (1714-1790) was a descendant of an old Calvinist family from Orange. His ancestor Louis de Langes was a companion of Lesdiguières and became Seigneur de Montmirail in 1599. His grand-father was president of the parliament of Orange but died in prison in Lyon in 1697 for refusing to convert to Catholicism. His father, who was governor of Orange, left the city with the Huguenot community in 1703. He later joined the Prussian army and became governor of Neuchâtel.
Charles-Benjamin was born in Berlin in 1714. In 1732 he was granted the citizenship of his mother's home city of Geneva, but was allowed to seek employment in foreign courts. Lubières was a member of the Société des Gens de Lettres, together with the philosophers Cramer, Calandrini, De La Rive, the physician Jalabert and the procurator Tronchin, and worked on editions of the Essai analytique sur les Facultés de l'Ame and the Considérations sur les corps organisés by Charles Bonnet. He wrote an introduction to an edition of the sermons of Lullin and published a journal of his travels in Italy.
The present drawing was probably executed by Liotard in 1758-62, during his stay in Geneva. This portrait is drawn on a very thin piece of white paper folded in two, with the contours of the figure drawn on the back of sheet and filled in with strong coloured chalk. This technique of changing the tone of the paper from the verso is typical of Liotard's portraits of that period. With his usual attention to detail, he used the remaining fold of the sheet to mask the dark colours of the backing sheet.The two further folded sheets of paper added by the artist between the folds of the present lot, making five layers in all, ensure that the backing is entirely opaque. At least three further drawings of this technique, also on large sheets of paper folded in two, are extant, Geneva, op. cit., nos. 106-7 and appendix, p. 287, Catalogue de l'oeuvre dessiné, no. 156.


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