0034 A Phenomenology of Vision: the Self-Portraits of Jean-Étienne Liotard

  • Hannah Williams (Author)
    St John's College, University of Oxford

    Hannah Williams is Junior Research Fellow in Art History at St John's College, University of Oxford. She gained her doctorate at the Courtauld Institute of Art in 2010 with a thesis on artists' portraits and self-portraits in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century France. She is currently completing a book drawn from this research entitled Académie Royale: An Ethnography in Portraiture, which has been awarded the Prix Marianne Roland Michel 2011.

Identifiers (Article)


This essay analyses the self-portraits of Jean-Étienne Liotard (1702-1789). Interpreting these objects through the lens of Maurice-Merleau-Ponty's writings on art and vision, I argue that Liotard's self-portraits can be understood as artistic experiments relating to the fundamental phenomenological problem of seeing and representing the lived-body. In making this argument this essay re-evaluates the art-historical tendency to read Liotard's self-portraits biographically as pictures of his unusual life or as tools of self-promotion.


Jean-Étienne Liotard, self-portraiture, phenomenology, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, eighteenth century, Selbstbildnis