In 2021, Xavier Salomon, chief curator of the Frick, met the Swiss Nicolas Get together. Salomon invited Get together to collaborate on an set up for the Frick Madison, destined to border Rosalba Carriera’s Portrait of a Man in Pilgrim Costume (c. 1730): a Venetian pastel, redolent of that metropolis’s celebrated carnival. The id of Rosalba’s sitter, most likely a British, French or German customer, is unrecorded. His lavishly brocaded waistcoat, of a kind incorporating unique fruit, could have impressed Get together’s textile-inspired response. The pastellist’s three murals kind an open room with the Rosalba piece on the central wall flanked by two of his personal framed works. This ensemble will stay in situ till 3 March 2024. When the Frick Assortment returns to its Gilded Age mansion following renovations, the social gathering will likely be over: Get together’s murals will likely be destroyed.
In its froth of lace and material, Get together’s set piece evokes the female high quality on this pioneering 18th-century Venetian pastellist’s oeuvre. He additionally attracts on work by the French portraitist Maurice Quentin de la Tour and his modern Jean-Étienne Liotard, a Swiss-born Huguenot. Get together’s backdrop for Rosalba’s portrait is impressed by the gown worn by Madame de Pompadour in de la Tour’s c. 1755 pastel displaying the royal mistress in her research. Lesley Miller, the main historian of textile and gown, says that de la Tour exhibits Pompadour carrying ‘a woven silk of resolutely European design, probably from Lyons, brocaded in polychrome silks with gold thread for the leaves.’ Pastel was the proper medium to seize such intense color. Offering it was properly protected, the ensuing portrait would retain its vivid pigment, freed from the veiling impact of aged varnish on oil work.
To the left of the Rosalba, an imaginary portrait by Get together is framed by textiles lifted from the gown in Liotard’s Girl in Turkish Gown, Seated on a Couch (c. 1752). Miller confirms that the sitter’s gown (entari) is ‘Center Japanese in aesthetic, and could also be woven or embroidered’. It’s worn with an undershirt (gomlek), whereas her proper arm has shed the sleeve of her Turkey crimson kaftan, which is embroidered in gold. Her head leans towards a swathe of ermine, the white winter fur of the stoat flecked with black tail ends. Get together juxtaposes these totally different textures and captures Liotard’s colors and patterns. Liotard could have introduced this outfit again from Constantinople: it reappears in his works Woman Anne Somerset (1755) and Anne Gunning, Countess of Coventry (1755), each created in England.
Get together’s portrait on the alternative wall is about towards the illustration of starched linen, a reference to the apron worn by Liotard’s most celebrated sitter The Chocolate Woman (c. 1744), which Rosalba herself thought-about ‘probably the most lovely pastel ever seen’.
Behind this whimsical theatrical setting for Rosalba’s masterpiece lurk unanswered questions of id. Who was the particular person depicted in Portrait of a Man in Pilgrim’s Costume? Is the Girl in Turkish Gown, Seated on a Couch an artist’s mannequin? Who was Liotard’s Chocolate Woman? The son of a textile service provider and tailor, Liotard was evidently fascinated by textiles. Likewise, Get together revels within the vary and texture of gown; his set up encourages the viewer to interact with the design and color of luxurious materials. Gown in these portraits is as important because the illustration of the wearer in emphasising the sitter’s standing. In London, portraits on present in ‘Model & Society: Dressing the Georgians’ on the Queen’s Gallery in Buckingham Palace vary from the sensible gown of laundry maids to glittering robes worn at court docket; there Pompadour seems carrying a floral robe of painted silk imported from China, in a 1764 portrait from the studio of François-Hubert Drouais.
The Rosalba portrait that impressed this fee got here to the Frick in 2020 from the gathering of the late Alexis Gregory: founding father of the Vendome Press, devotee of structure, inside design and images, answerable for the internationally recognised Vendome piano prize – and enthusiastic about Venice. Gregory’s Fifth Avenue condominium resembled a Kunstkammer, during which bronzes, Chinese language and French porcelain, Limoges tazze and uncommon French pottery vied with baroque and rococo work, together with the Rosalba. Bronzes and Limoges enamels from Gregory’s assortment are proven within the gallery adjoining to Get together’s murals.
Get together’s set up breathes new vitality and cosmopolitan sophistication into Rosalba’s masterpiece, whereas its ephemeral nature stops us in our tracks. The preservation of large-scale murals in pastel is impracticable, however their transitory nature encourages the viewer to replicate and recall the masterpieces they evoke.
‘Nicolas Get together and Rosalba Carriera’ is at Frick Madison, New York till 3 March 2024.