Lowell Libson & Jonny Yarker Ltd

  • Enamel on copper
  • 2 ¾ × 2 5/16 inches · 71 × 58 mm
  • Painted in c.1754


  • Jean-Étienne Liotard;
  • Jean-Étienne Liotard-Crommelin (1789-1822), the artist’s son, by inheritance;
  • Marie-Anne Liotard (1822-1873), daughter of the above;
  • Johanna Victoria Liotard (1831-1885). niece of the above;
  • Christian Bernard Tilanus (1856-1932), son of the above;
  • By descent to 2019;
  • Artcurial, Paris, 27th March 2019, lot.343;
  • Derek Johns, acquired from the above;
  • Private collection, UK to 2024

This striking portrait of the merchant, diplomat and courtier Sir Everard Fawkener was made by his good friend, Jean-Étienne Liotard. An unusually sympathetic and cosmopolitan figure, Fawkener was variously, Voltaire’s chief correspondent in Britain and dedicatee of his play Zaïre, ambassador to the Sublime Porte in Constantinople during the reign of Sultan Mahmud I, secretary to William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland and one of the principal backers of Nicholas Sprimont and the Chelsea porcelain factory. Fawkener was also an important and consistent patron of Liotard; it was with Fawkener that Liotard lodged in Constantinople and through him that he had access to many of the most prominent Europeans in the city. Fawkener become a good patron during Liotard’s first trip to London, commissioning at least two portraits of himself, one a profile in pastel now in the Victoria & Albert Museum and a second in enamel, now in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford as well as a spectacular pastel portrait of his young wife, Harriet, Lady Fawkener, now at Compton Verney, Warwickshire. The present dazzling portrait of Fawkener is close to the enamel now at the Ashmolean, although rather than a brown velvet coat, he is shown in one of vibrant blue. The provenance of this enamel indicates that it remained in Liotard’s collection as part of the archive of works he retained. Unknown to Roethlisberger and Loche at the time they published the Liotard catalogue raisonné, this remarkable enamel offers fascinating insight into the cosmopolitan circle Liotard occupied in London in the 1750s.

Jean-Etienne Liotard
Sir Everard Fawkener
3 x 2 ½ inches; 77 x 64 mm
Enamel on copper
© Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford

Jean Etienne Liotard
Sir Everard Fawkener
Pastel on vellum
21 ⅝ x 17 ⅞ inches; 551 x 455 mm
© Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Everard Fawkener was born into a gentry family with strong mercantile links. Based in Aleppo from 1716 he was active in trading cloth for his family firm, selling British wool and buying silk for export.[1] In 1725 he returned to Britain via the Continent meeting Voltaire in Paris, marking the beginning of an enduring and memorable friendship. The following year he offered hospitality to the French writer when the latter found himself in England, alone, impoverished, and distressed. Fawkener had purchased a country house at Wandsworth, then a village outside London, and this became Voltaire’s home for large parts of his British sojourn.

In 1735, much to Voltaire’s surprise, Fawkener was made ambassador to the Sublime Porte in Constantinople. For Voltaire the elevation of a merchant to a senior diplomatic position convincingly demonstrated that England was the home of freedom – unlike France where such social mobility was unthinkable. As he wrote to Fawkener in 1736: ‘certainly England is the only country where commerce and virtue are to be rewarded with such an honour.’ But as Fawkener’s biographer, Norma Perry, has pointed out the unusual appointment was almost certainly thanks to a concatenation of factors: Fawkener was a gentleman and exceptionally well-connected, he was well-acquainted with the Ottoman empire and was a successful member of the powerful Levant company. Made a knight bachelor and furnished with a warrant for £1000 for his equipage, Fawkener set out overland in September 1735.

In 1738 Liotard arrived in Constantinople in the company of William Ponsonby, Viscount Duncannon (later Earl of Bessborough), John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich and James Nelthorpe. According to the account Liotard dictated to his son, it was Fawkener who convinced Liotard to remain in Constantinople after the artist’s travelling companions had left to continue their tour Eastwards. Liotard produced a surprisingly intimate chalk portrait of Fawkener, seated in an armchair in loose fitting gown, cap and slippers, a drawing now in the collection of Norwich Castle Museum, Norfolk. Fawkener returned to London in 1742, after a successful seven years in post. In 1745 he was appointed secretary to the Duke of Cumberland, the youngest son of King George II. Cumberland was a successful soldier who had been Commander-in-Chief of the allied forces during the War of the Austrian Succession. Fawkener joined the duke on the eve of the Jacobite rising, Cumberland was to command the British forces against the rebels, scoring a decisive victory at Culloden. In 1747, at the age of 54, Fawkener married Harriet Churchill, the natural daughter of Lieutenant-General Charles Churchill.

Jean-Etienne Liotard
Sir Everard Fawkener
Black and red chalk on paper
8 ⅞ x 6 ⅞ inches; 226 x 174 mm
© Norfolk Museums Service
Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery

Liotard arrived in London for his first visit in 1753 and sought patronage from the British travellers he had met in Italy and Turkey. Key amongst them was William Ponsonby, Earl of Bessborough and Fawkener. Liotard made a pastel portrait of both men in a distinctive profile format, Fawkener’s portrait rendered as a trompe l’oeil cameo or miniature, hanging on piece of ribbon.[2] The unusual form of these portraits is largely explained by the passions of each man: Bessborough was a noted collector of ancient gems and Fawkener formed a noted collection of coins, medals and miniatures. Although we have no record of precisely what was in Fawkener’s collection we know he gave a spectacular portrait miniature by the seventeenth-century miniaturist John Hoskins to Sir Robert Walpole. The miniature, now in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, passed to Horace Walpole where it is listed in the Tribune at Strawberry Hill in 1774.[3] Fawkener was therefore a collector of historic miniatures, and this may explain why he commissioned Liotard to produce his own portrait in enamel. Liotard had produced a small number of enamels during his time in Vienna, but his most beautiful enamels were made in London.

John Hoskins
Dr. Brian Walton 1657
Vellum laid on card
Oval, 2 ¾ x 2 ¼ inches; 72 x 58 mm
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Fletcher Fund, 1935

Liotard produced a celebrated self-portrait wearing Turkish costume and sporting a long beard in enamel and now in the Royal Collection. It has not been noticed before, but the first owner of Liotard’s self-portrait was Lady Mary Churchill, the wife of Harriet Fawkener’s brother, she, in turn, gave it to her half-brother, Horace Walpole.[4] Other sitters of Liotard’s London enamels seem to be connected to Fawkener. Georgiana Poyntz, for example, whose beautiful miniature formerly in the collection of the Musée de l’Horlogerie in Geneva, was the daughter of Stephen Poyntz who was one of Fawkener’s closest friends and acted as steward to the Duke of Cumberland, her husband, John Spencer was also depicted in an enamel now mounted on the lid of an ivory box in the Gilbert Collection, at the Victoria & Albery Museum, London.[5] The two portraits of Fawkener are arguably the most ambitious of Liotard’s British enamels. The bust-length portraits show the 60-year-old Fawkener seated in an interior, with light falling from the left, illuminating the right side of his face and casting a shadow on the wall to the right of the sitter; this illusionistic detail gives the portrait an unusually animated and sculptural quality.

Jean-Étienne Liotard
A Self-Portrait  1753
2 ⅜ x 1 ¾ inches; 59 x 45 mm (sight)
© His Majesty King Charles III 2024
Royal Collection Trust

Enamels were highly prized in mid-eighteenth-century Britain. In essence, a type of glass coloured by metal oxide fused to a metal base by multiple firings, enamel was a medium inherently associated with the manufacture and decoration of porcelain. Jean André Rouquet noted in his essay The Present State of the Arts in England published in both French and English in 1755: ‘Les potiers de terr, appliquoient aussi les émaux sur leurs ouvrages. Les imitateurs de porcelain ont, depuis ce tems-là, beaucoup travaillé cet article.’[6] It is suggestive that Fawkener was one of the most significant figures in promoting the Chelsea porcelain manufactory. Fawkener was more than simply financially involved with the factory, as his correspondence with the British minister in Dresden, Sir Charles Hanbury-Williams testifies. In 1751 Fawkener wrote to Hanbury-Williams asking him to send a selection of Meissen to be copied at Chelsea. Hanbury-Williams had, in fact, been presented with a large service of Meissen porcelain by Friedrich Augustus II, Elector of Saxony which he shipped back to London in 1748, he informed Fawkener that any of it could be borrowed and copied at the factory. Fawkener wrote to thank Hanbury-Williams, noting: ‘I found on my return to Town that many imitations are made, as well in some forms as in paintings. This is the greatest consequence to this new manufacture, as that of Dresden has not only the advantage of a longer establishment & of all the support of a Royal expence, by wh a number of the best artists in the way they want are drawn tither, but there exists at Dresden the greatest collection of old china in Europe, from when many excellent patterns are to be had.’[7] Liotard with his connections to the court in Dresden, particularly his friendship with Count Francesco Algarotti (another Voltaire correspondent) agent for Friedrich Augustus II, would undoubtedly have been intrigued. It is possible that through Fawkener, Liotard had access to the Chelsea kilns to fire his enamels?[8] 

In Fawkener, Liotard found a hugely cosmopolitan and sympathetic patron, one who was intimately connected with the pan-European community of writers and collectors who supported much of his career. Throughout his life Liotard produced his most beautiful and innovative works for the patrons he liked and esteemed. For example, the spectacular pastel on vellum portrait Fawkener commissioned of his wife.[9] Liotard shows Harriet informally seated at her worktable, lavishing detail on the contrasting textures of her costume, particularly her black lace fichu. Liotard evidently lavished particular care on his enamel portrait of Fawkener; the minute stippling used to create the features was infinitely more complex and technically demanding than producing a pastel. It is particularly telling that Liotard produced a version of the portrait for Fawkener and retained this enamel for himself, testament of an important and lasting friendship.


  1. For the most comprehensive account of Fawkener see Norma Perry, ‘Sir Everard Fawkener, friend and correspondent of Voltaire’, in Ed. Theodore Besterman, Studies on Voltaire and the Eighteenth Century, 1975, vol.133. 
  2. Marcel Roethlisberger and Renée Loche, Liotard: Catalogue, Sources et Correspondence, Doornspijk, 2008, vol.I, pp.457-458, cat.288. 
  3. Graham Reynolds with the assistance of Katharine Baetjer, European Miniatures in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, exh. cat. New York (Metropolitan Museum of Art), 1996, pp.10, 12-13, 80, cat. no.24. 
  4. Marcel Roethlisberger and Renée Loche, Liotard: Catalogue, Sources et Correspondence, Doornspijk, 2008, vol.I, cat.262, pp.439-40.
  5. Marcel Roethlisberger and Renée Loche, Liotard: Catalogue, Sources et Correspondence, Doornspijk, 2008, vol.I, cat. 263, p.440. Fawkener’s son, William Augustus, would marry Georgina Ann Poyntz, granddaughter of Stephen Poyntz and niece of Georgiana, Countess Spencer.
  6. Jean André Rouquet, L’Etat des Arts, En Angleterre, Paris, 1755, p.82. 
  7. The Earl of Ilchester, ‘A Notable Service of Meissen Porcelain’, The Burlington Magazine, October 1929, vol.55, no.319, p.190. 
  8. Our miniature shows an almost invisible hairline crack in the enamel surface. This has previously been referred to as being a firing fault. It is, however, more likely to be a result of an impact to the delicate surface of the enamel.
  9. Marcel Roethlisberger and Renée Loche, Liotard: Catalogue, Sources et Correspondence, Doornspijk, 2008, vol.I, cat. no.284, pp.454-455.