The Lavergne Family Breakfast

Image credit: The National Gallery, London

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At breakfast, an elegantly dressed woman watches a little girl dip a biscuit into milky coffee. The girl wears paper curlers in her hair. Coffee and chocolate were exclusive and costly beverages in the eighteenth century; the porcelain and silverware they use were no less luxurious.

As well as capturing this tender moment, Liotard lavishes attention on the still-life elements. He uses a build-up of thick, wet pastel to create dimensional reflections on the silver coffee pot and Chinese porcelain, whose glossy surfaces are in turn reflected in the lacquer tray. A minute signature and date – Liotard / a lion / 1754 (‘Liotard / in Lyon / 1754’) – are found on the sheet music that pokes out from the open drawer.

Although this picture is not strictly a portrait, its sitters have long been associated with the Lavergne family, relatives of Liotard’s who lived in Lyon.

The National Gallery, London



The Lavergne Family Breakfast




pastel on paper stuck down on canvas


H 80 x W 106 cm

Accession number


Acquisition method

accepted by HM Government in lieu of inheritance tax from the estate of George Pinto and allocated to the National Gallery, 2019

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