A Space of Their Own

Marie-Suzanne Giroust

March 9, 1734 – August 31, 1772

Active in: France
Alternate names: Marie-Suzanne Roslin


Marie-Suzanne Giroust was a gifted pastellist whose twenty-year career was cut short by her premature death at age thirty-eight from breast cancer. Born in Paris to an artistic family with royal connections, Giroust’s father, Barthélemy Giroust (d. 1741), was Jeweler to the King’s Wardrobe. It is possible her father taught Giroust how to draw and encouraged her to become an artist; however, that important relationship ended with his death in 1741 when Giroust was only eight years old. By the time she was eleven, her mother also had died, leaving her an orphan.

Giroust retained her determination to study art and must have been supported by her guardians. At some point she was admitted to the atelier of Maurice Quentin de la Tour, possibly around 1749, when he had apartments in the Louvre. One of Giroust’s best-known surviving works is a self-portrait showing her smiling as she copies Maurice Quentin de la Tour’s famous self-portrait while laughing, which had been shown at the Salon of 1737. She subsequently studied with Joseph-Marie Vien sometime after 1750. Giroust and Vien became good friends, and it was in Vien’s studio that she met Alexander Roslin, around 1754.

Specializing in portraiture, Giroust’s subjects included fellow artists, among them the sculptor Pigalle and the painter Jacques Dumont, as well as friends, occasional members of the social elite, and her own family. Several portraits of her children survive, although a portrayal of herself with her family, or with her husband, does not.

In 1770, at age thirty-six, Giroust, together with Anne Vallayer-Coster, was accepted and admitted to full membership in the Académie Royale in a single session. Giroust was one of the few women accepted into the Academy during the eighteenth century. After her admission, the Academy issued new rules limiting membership of women artists to four. Following the Revolution, membership of women was refused altogether.

Giroust’s career as an exhibiting member of the Academy was cut short by breast cancer. In 1771 her submissions, including her reception piece, the portrait of Pigalle, were highly praised. Sadly, 1771 was to be her only Salon appearance. A final pregnancy and her illness prevented any work in 1772. She died on August 31 of that year.

Selected Works


A Checklist of Painters ca. 1200–1976 Represented in the Witt Library, Courtauld Institute of Art, London. London: Mansell, 1978.

Bénézit, Emmanuel. Dictionnaire critique et documentaire des peintres, sculpteurs, dessinateurs et graveurs de tous les temps. Paris: Gründ, 1976.

Biedermann, G. “Les femmes peintres de l’Académie royale de peinture.” L’Estampille 204 (1987): 46–54.

Blanc, Olivier. Portraits de femmes: artistes et modèles à l’époque de Marie-Antoinette. Paris: Patrimoine & SA, 2006.

Bonnet, Marie-Jo. “Femmes peintres à leur travail: de l’autoportrait comme manifeste politique.” Revue d’histoire modern et contemporaine 49, no. 3 (2002): 140–67.

Chennevières, Henry. “Silhouette des collectionneurs: M. Eudoxe Marcille.” Gazette des beaux-arts 4 (1856): 233.

Fidière, Octave. Les Femmes artistes à l'Académie royale de peinture et de sculpture. Paris: Charavay Frères, 1885.

Greer, Germaine. The Obstacle Race: The Fortunes of Women Painters and Their Work. New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 1979.

Guichard, Charlotte. La griffe du peintre: la valeur de l’art (1730–1820). Paris: Sneuil, 2018.

Jal, Auguste. Dictionnaire critique de biographie et d’histoire. Paris, 1872.

Jeffares, Neil. “Roslin, Mme Alexander, née Jeanne-Suzanne Giroust.” http://www.pastellists.com/Articles/RoslinMS.pdf.

Lundberg, Gunnar Wilhelm. Jean Pâris de Montmartel, porträtt, en nyfunnen La Tour-Pastell. Lund, 1934.

Lundberg, Gunnar Wilhelm. “Un ambassadeur de Suède à Paris au XVIIIe siècle, le comte Creutz.” L’Insurgé 2 (1936).

Lundberg, Gunnar Wilhelm. Roslin: liv och verk. Malmö, 1957.

Lundberg, Gunnar Wilhelm. “Roslin, Alexander.” In Svenkst konstnärs-lexikon. Malmö, 1961.

Monnier, G. Pastels XVIIe et XVIIIe siècles. Paris, 1972.

Münch, Birgit Ulrike, et al. Künstlerinnen: neue Perspektiven auf ein Forschungsfeld der Vormoderne. Petersberg: Imhof, 2017.

Olausson, Magnus. “Roslin’s Self-Portrait with his Wife Marie Suzanne Giroust Painting a Portrait of Henrik Wilhelm Peill.” Art Bulletin of Nationalmuseum Stockholm 20 (2013): 17–18.

RKD. “Marie Suzanne Roslin.” https://rkd.nl/explore/artists/68307.

Roslin, Charles. “Un peintre suédois à la cour de France. Alexandre Roslin…” Revue de l’histoire de Versailles et de Seine-et-Oise (1913): 97–113.

Salmon, Xavier. Musée national du château de Versailles: les pastels. Paris: Editions de la Réunion des musées nationaux, 1997.

Sanchez, Pierre. Dictionnaire des artistes exposant dans les salons des XVIIe et XVIIIe siècles à Paris et en province. Dijon: L’échelle de Jacob, 2004.

Thieme, Ulrich and Felix Becker. Allgemeines Lexikon der bildenden Künstler: von der Antike bis zur Gegenwart. Leipzig: Seemann, 1907–50.