The Chocolate Girl

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The Chocolate Girl
French: La Belle Chocolatière
Jean-Etienne Liotard - The Chocolate Girl - Google Art Project.jpg
ArtistJean-Étienne Liotard
Yearcirca 1743-44
TypePastel on parchment
Dimensions82.5 cm × 52.5 cm (32.5 in × 20.7 in)
LocationGemäldegalerie Alte Meister, Dresden
18th century replica in the National Museum in Warsaw and a similar girl by Liotard (1754) in La Prima Colazione (The breakfast).

The Chocolate Girl (French: La Belle Chocolatière, German: Das Schokoladenmädchen) is one of the most prominent pastels of Genevan artist Jean-Étienne Liotard, showing a chocolate-serving maid. The girl carries a tray with a porcelain chocolate cup and a glass of water. Liotard's contemporaries classed The Chocolate Girl as his masterpiece.[1]

On 3 February 1745 Francesco Algarotti purchased the drawing directly from Liotard in Venice. In an unknown year (between 1747 and 1754?) the picture became part of the collection of August III of Poland. In a letter dated 13 February 1751 to his friend Pierre-Jean Mariette he wrote:

I have bought a pastel picture about three feet high by the celebrated Liotard. It shows a young German chambermaid in profile, carrying a tray with a glass of water and a cup of chocolate. The picture is almost devoid of shadows, with a pale background, the light being furnished by two windows reflected in the glass. It is painted in half-tones with imperceptible graduations of light and with a perfect modelling...and although it is a European picture it could appeal to the Chinese who, as you know, are sworn enemies of shadows. With regard to the perfection of the work, it is a Holbein in pastel.[2]

Since 1855 the picture with the serving maid from Vienna, who might have been a certain Nannerl Baldauf, has hung in the Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister, Dresden. Theories concerning the girl's headdress run from a cap cover to an echo of the colorful regional caps.[3] The girl's apron features a small bodice. During World War II the Germans transported it to Königstein Fortress.[4] The delicate pastel managed to survive the cold and damp there and was brought back to Dresden after the Germans retreated from advancing Soviet troops. After World War II, the painting was briefly in possession of the Soviet Union.

In 1862 the American Baker's Chocolate Company obtained the rights to use the pastel.[5]

Around 1900, La Belle Chocolatière served as inspiration for the commercial illustration of the "nurse" that appeared on Droste's cocoa tins. This was most probably a work of the commercial artist Jan (Johannes) Misset. According to Droste, "The illustration indicated the wholesome effect of chocolate milk and became inextricably bound with the name Droste."[6]


  1. ^ "Jean-Etienne Liotard - London Borough of Richmond upon Thames". Archived from the original on 2007-03-04. Retrieved 2008-03-12.
  2. ^[bare URL PDF]
  3. ^ "18th Century Women's Head Coverings". Retrieved 2008-03-11.
  4. ^ Наталия Синельникова. Триумф "Шоколадницы" (in Russian). Retrieved 2008-03-11.
  5. ^ "The History of Chocolate: 1800s". Archived from the original on 2012-09-05. Retrieved 2008-03-11.
  6. ^ "Droste: from Confectioner to Chocolate producer" Archived February 18, 2008, at the Wayback Machine

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