Neil Jeffares

Neil Jeffares is an art historian with a particular interest in eighteenth century pastels. Since 1999 his contributions on art history and portraiture have appeared in journals ranging from the Burlington Magazine, Apollo and the Gazette des Beaux-Arts to the British Art Journal, the Court Historian and Le Musée Condé. In 2006 Unicorn Press published his Dictionary of pastellists before 1800; it was awarded the Besterman/McColvin medal for the outstanding reference book published in the UK that year. Since then he maintains a greatly expanded online version of this work on this website, Pastels & pastellists. Didier Rykner, in La Tribune de l’Art, expressed “notre admiration pour le Dictionary of pastellists before 1800 de Neil Jeffares, une somme de première importance, par le meilleur connaisseur de cette technique et des artistes l’ayant employée” (August 2022), while Xavier Salomon (Rosalba's Man in Pilgrim's Costume, 2023) acknowledged Jeffares’s “contribution to the study of pastels and his generosity in single-handedly creating the most remarkable art-historical resource online.”

Originating from the Dictionary is his full scale catalogue raisonné of Maurice-Quentin de La Tour, which is embedded within this website and is also constantly updated. In a review for Master Drawings (Winter 2023), Oliver Wunsch called the work “a far more comprehensive synthesis of information about La Tour than any scholar has previously attempted.”

Eighteenth century pastels are seriously neglected by scholars, curators and collectors worldwide. Jeffares’s work is driven by the belief that the special aesthetic pleasure they offer can be enhanced and informed by a prosopographic understanding of all those involved in their creation and collection. He is also committed to sharing this information as widely as possible, without profit, and most of his research is available on his site which is free to all.

Those who follow him on his blog Fairness, candour & curiosity or on Twitter (@neiljeffares) will be aware that Jeffares takes an interest in more than just art history. He tries to illuminate his arguments with ideas drawn from an unusual combination of interests. His opinions on subjects ranging from banking, taxation and law to philanthropy and the arts can also be found in the letters columns of The Times and the Financial Times as well as in evidence to various parliamentary inquiries.

Jeffares read mathematics and natural sciences simultaneously at Trinity College, Dublin. At Oxford he pursued research in mathematics under Sir Roger Penrose before taking up scientific publishing, becoming a managing editor at Pergamon Press. In the early 1980s he moved into finance, spending most of his banking career at Morgan Grenfell which he joined just before the deregulation of financial markets in London in 1986. After the takeover by Deutsche Bank he was global head of Deutsche Morgan Grenfell’s special products group (a business with units in London, Frankfurt, New York, Sydney and Singapore, specialising in complex transactions for large companies). Subsequently he worked as head of structured finance at Royal Dutch Shell for several years. He then ran his own corporate advisory firm before withdrawing from finance to devote himself full time to art history.

Jeffares is married and lives in London. You can email him at info@pastellists.com.

Most of his writing on art history appears in documents on this Pastels & pastellists website, while articles on related subjects also appear on his blog, Fairness, candour & curiosity. Below is a selection of externally published articles; for a full list of articles and essays, see under Jeffares in the Bibliography.

Principal publications on art history

Pastels & pastellists website

This includes the online Dictionary of pastellists before 1800, as well as a number of other major publications, notably
Prolegomena to Pastels & pastellists
Treatises and other historical texts related to Pastels & pastellists
Pastels & pastellists also includes numerous additional resources, including genealogies and biographical indices of collectors, writers, suppliers, copyists, engravers etc. Longer essays are indexed here.

Catalogue raisonné of Maurice-Quentin de La Tour, issued in separate fascicles, constantly updated, indexed from here. Complete pdfs have been periodically issued: Maurice-Quentin de La Tour, 2020; 2nd edition

Publications on art history - externally published (chronological order)

« Jacques-Antoine-Marie Lemoine », Gazette des beaux-arts, février 1999, vol. CXXXV, n° 1561, pp. 61–136

« L’abbé Pommyer, honoraire amateur de l’Académie royale de peinture », Gazette des beaux-arts, mai–juin 2001, vol. CXXXVII, n° 1588–89, pp. 237–56

“The marquis de Bonnac: a suggested identification of a portrait by Louis Vigée”, British journal for eighteenth century studies, Spring 2002, vol. 25, no. 1, pp. 45–74

“Jean Valade’s portraits of the Faventines family”, British journal for eighteenth century studies, Autumn 2003, vol. 26, no. 2, pp. 217–50

(avec Pierre Rosenberg) « Pastels du musée Condé, Chantilly », De poudre et de papier : florilège de pastels dans les collections publiques françaises, Versailles, 2004

« Les portraits des princesses de Bourbon-Condé par Rosalba Carriera », Le Musée Condé, décembre 2004, n° 61, pp. 14–19

Dictionary of pastellists before 1800, London, Unicorn Press, 2006

« Pastels de la Collection Oulmont », Le Goût de la grace et du joli. Dessins, peintures et pastels du XVIIIe siècle, Épinal, musée départemental d’art ancien et contemporain, 2007, éd. Jérôme Delaplanche

« Le portrait de Mme de Prie par J.-B. Van Loo », Parcours d’un collectionneur : l’histoire, la fable et le portrait, tableaux et dessins français inédits des XVIIe et XVIIIe siècles, Sceaux, musée de l’Île-de-France, 13 septembre 2007 – 21 janvier 2008; Arras, musée des Beaux-Arts, 1er mars – 15 juin 2008; Bayonne, musée Bonnat, 11 juillet – 13 octobre 2008. Catalogue Pierre Rosenberg & al.

Review of Liotard by M. Roethlisberger & R. Loche, Burlington magazine, May 2009, vol. CLI, no. 1274, pp. 322–23

(avec Axelle Corty), « L’autoportrait au pastel de Jean-Louis Lambert », Connaissance des arts, mars 2010, p. 103

“Leading the Revolution”, review of Adélaïde Labille-Guiard by Laura Auricchio, Apollo, December 2010, pp. 88–90

Review of Pastel portraits: images of 18th-century Europe at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Burlington magazine, July 2011, vol. CLIII, no. 1274, pp. 500–501

Pastel: a transnational phenomenon in 18th century Europe”, in Christie's Old master & early British drawings & watercolours sale catalogue, London, 3 July 2012, pp. 66–67

“Between France and Bavaria: Louis-Joseph d’Albert de Luynes, prince de Grimberghen”, The court historian, vol. 17/1, June 2012, pp. 61–85

Review of Robert Nanteuil (ca. 1623–1678) by Audrey Adamczak, Burlington magazine, August 2012, vol. CLIV, no. 1313, pp. 583–84

“Martha Gumley (1711-87) and her portrait by John Russell”, Proceedings of the Wesley Historical Society, vol. LIX, no. 1, February 2013, pp. 3-11 and cover

« Un portrait au pastel de Nattier », Connaissance des arts, no. 714, avril 2013, p. 105

« La princesse de Guéméné », Madame Élisabeth: une princesse au destin tragique 1764-1794, Versailles, 2013, éd. Juliette Trey

'Why bother with Joseph Boze?' Pastels in The Burlington Magazine”, The Burlington Magazine index blog, 29.I.2014

De pastels van de famille d’Ursel”, Kasteel d’Ursel magazine, 40, .XII.2014, pp. 4-7

“Jacques-Antoine-Marie Lemoine”, in Allgemeines Künstlerlexikon, Band 84, Munich, 2015

“Two English portraits by Liotard: Lady Anne Somerset and Catherine, Lady Hawke”, British art journal, vol. XV, no. 3, Spring 2015, pp. 3–11

“Liotard and the medium of pastel”, in Jean-Étienne Liotard, Edinburgh, Scottish National Gallery; London, Royal Academy of Arts, 2015-16, pp. 26–33

“Pastels, portraits and paramours”, introduction to the Liotard exhibition at the J. Paul Getty Museum, Iris, the online magazine of the Getty

“John Downman”, in Christie's Old master & British drawings & watercolours sale catalogue, London, South Kensington, 9 December 2015, p. 84

“Jacques-Antoine-Marie Lemoine”, in Allgemeines Künstlerlexikon, vol. LXXXIV, 2015, p. 72

“Francis Cotes (1726–1770) and his family”, British art journal, XVI/3, Winter 2015/16, pp. 68–73

"Romney's Mrs Gardner", Transactions of the Romney Society, XXI, 2016, pp. 12-17

"Parlementaires in pastel", in Bertrand Augé, ed., Regards nouveaux sur les institutions représentatives de l'ancien régime, la Cour, la diplomatie, la guerre et la littérature: essais en hommage à John Rogister, Paris, 2017, pp. 85-112

"Polska i jej elity na tle popularnosci portretu pastelowego w XVIII-wiecznej Europie", Rocznik Muzeum Narodowego w Warszawie, VI, 42, 2017, pp. 137-55

"In praise of pastels", review of Salmon 2018, Apollo, September 2018, pp. 18, 107, 116-17

"Pastels du Louvre: questions d'attribution", Gazette Drouot, 28, 13 juillet 2018, pp. 104-107

"Framing the Louvre's pastels", The Frame Blog, 2018

"Foreign legion", review of Baetjer 2019, Apollo, April 2019, pp. 102-3

"Daniel Gardner and the revival of interest in pastel", in Christie's Old master & British drawings & watercolours sale catalogue, London, 2 July 2019, p. 84

An epitome of painting (1683) by Edward Luttrell”, Walpole Society, LXXXII, 2020, pp. 115–47

"Pastels in the pandemic", Burlington magazine, August 2022, CLXIV, pp. 780-87

"On collecting pastels", in Sotheby's Master works on paper sale catalogue, New York, 25 January 2023, pp. xff

"Joseph Baillio. An appreciation", in Sotheby's A scholar collects sale catalogue, New York, 31 January 2024


« Lemoine et La Cantatrice », Colloque, L’Age d’or du petit portrait, Paris, musée du Louvre, 26 janvier 1996

« A l’ombre de La Tour : Quelques pastellistes des deux Académies », Colloque scientifique international, Maurice-Quentin de La Tour 1704–1784: Le tricentenaire, Saint-Quentin, 22 octobre 2004

“Diplomacy and the internationalisation of pastel portraiture”, Symposium, 1756–2006: Die diplomatische Revolution, Vienna, Ambassade de France en Autriche, 1–3 May 2006

“Encounters with Perronneau”, Colloque international, Jean-Baptiste Perronneau, un artiste de son temps?, Orléans, musée des Beaux-Arts, 22-23 juin 2017

“A history of pastel exhibitions: 1. The evolution of taste”, Colloque international, Le Pastel: regards croisés sur une technique singulière, Paris, Petit Palais, 16-17 octobre 2017

“A history of pastel exhibitions: 2. Transporting pastels to exhibitions”, Colloque international, Le Pastel: regards croisés sur une technique singulière, Paris, Petit Palais, 16-17 octobre 2017

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