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.
Marie-Suzanne Giroust, Portrait of Alexandre-Antoine Roslin, ca. 1765. Pastel on paper, 62 x 51 cm. Nationalmuseum Sweden
Marie-Suzanne Giroust, Mme. Louis-Suzanne-Clere Carterdon de Barmont, née Augustine-Suzanne Roslin, 1771. Pastel on paper, 62 x 48.5 cm. Nationalmuseum Sweden
Marie-Suzanne Giroust, Portrait of Marie-Joseph Peyre, 1771. Pastel on paper, 63 x 53 cm. Nationalmuseum, Sweden
Swedish painter Roslin
Maurice Quentin de la Tour
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