Jean Étienne Liotard - The Chocolate Girl

by Alexandra Tuschka


It is called the "most beautiful pastel" in the world. Now that most artists are turning to oil paints, the chocolate girl doesn't seem to have much competition anyway.

Who the beautiful girl is who carries the serving tray with a cup of chocolate and a glass of water into the picture here is not known. That she was a "chocolate seller", as the painting title suggests, is only one of the possible interpretations. Her name could also have been Anna Balthauf and she could have been the daughter of the impoverished knight Melchior Balthauf. She had been recruited as a young maid at the Viennese court, where the painting was created between 1743 and 1745. There, the young Prince von Dietrichstein is said to have had his eye on her. This story is recorded in a recipe booklet from 1913.


In a particularly romantic version of this anecdote, the prince actually only wanted to taste the new delicacy in a Viennese chocolate store. When he saw the beautiful Anna who was serving here, he immediately fell in love. He entered the store almost every day since then to be close to her. When they married, Prince Dietrichstein asked the court painter Jean-Étienne Liotard to paint the girl as he had met her.


Two hundred years later, the girl has also charmed a man. This time, however, it was an American chocolate manufacturer - Henry L. Pierce. He was so fascinated by the motif that he registered it as a trademark and had it printed on his cocoa packaging from then on.


Jean Étienne Liotard - The Chocolate Girl

Pastel painting on parchment, 1743 - 1745, 82.5 cm × 52.5 cm, Old Masters Picture Gallery in Dresden