Pastel Portraits

Images of 18th-Century Europe

Katharine Baetjer and Marjorie Shelley

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Brightly hued, highly finished, and relatively large in scale, pastels in the 18th century were regarded as a type of painting and displayed like oils. The powdery, vibrant crayons are particularly suited to capturing the skin tones and evanescent expressions that characterize the most lifelike portraits.

Pastels cannot be permanently displayed because they are susceptible to fading, and they rarely travel. Until now, there has never been an exhibition in the U.S. devoted to these intriguing and important works. Pastel Portraits, the companion book to an exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum, presents over 40 exquisite works by French, Italian, English, Swiss, and American artists. It offers a technical discussion of the materials and explains why pastels achieved widespread popularity in the 1700s and how the fabrication of this medium intersected with Enlightenment thinking.

Katharine Baetjer is Curator, European Paintings, and Marjorie Shelley is Sherman Fairchild Conservator in Charge, Paper Conservation, both at the Metropolitan Museum.


The Metropolitan Museum of Art

“Very thorough and would be valuable to anyone interested in the history and technical aspects of drawing and working in this medium….It is a rare pleasure to see the fine reproductions of the pastel portraits that were displayed in the exhibition.”—Sophie Bostock, Cassone
ISBN: 9780300169812
Publication Date: June 21, 2011
Publishing Partner: Published in association with The Metropolitan Museum of Art
56 pages, 8 1/2 x 11
50 color illus.
William Merritt Chase

The Paintings in Pastel, Monotypes, Painted Tiles and Ceramic Plates, Watercolors, and Prints

Ronald G. Pisano; Completed by D.

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Watteau, Music, and Theater

Edited by Katharine Baetje; With an introduction by Pierre

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Vigée Le Brun

Joseph Baillio, Katharine Baetjer, and Paul Lang; With cont

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Delacroix Drawings

The Karen B. Cohen Collection

Ashley Dunn; With contributions by Colta Ives and Marjorie

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