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Portrait of a Man

Portrait of a Man, 1753

Guillaume Voiriot
French, 1713-1799
Pastel on paper
23-1/4 x 19-1/8 in. (59.1 x 48.6 cm)
The Norton Simon Foundation
© The Norton Simon Foundation

On view

In the 18th century, pastel experienced a resurgence in popularity among artists in Europe, as pastel sticks became more durable, vibrant and affordable. At the same time, artists were rediscovering the medium’s distinctive velvety texture and luminous effects. These qualities, along with the medium’s speed, made pastel ideally suited for informal portraiture. In this example by Guillaume Voiriot, a gentleman looks up from his reading to converse lightly with the artist. Voiriot portrays him fondly and with a sense of intimacy, suggesting that this sitter may be one of the close friends or family members who sat frequently for the artist.

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