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Suzanne Caron, Portrait of a man, 1765.

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€9.500,00 EUR
Regular price
Sale price
€9.500,00 EUR

One of her few remaining paintings

Suzanne Caron (1734-1777).

Portrait of a man.

Paris, 1765.

Pastel on paper mounted to canvas, signed and dated on the left “Suzanne Caron / fecit 1765”. 55 x 46 cm.

This fine pastel portrait is one of the very few known paintings by Suzanne (or Susanne) Caron, a French female artist from a family of Protestant intellectuals with strong ties to the Netherlands. Her father, Pierre Caron, was a goldsmith and jeweler in Paris. In the early 1760s, she became known there as a talented pastelist, and in 1768, she moved to the Protestant Netherlands for religious reasons and to escape the tough competition between portrait painters in Paris. She lived in The Hague and in Amsterdam, where she married, auctioned all her artworks, and migrated to Surinam on the promise of her husband’s business plan, which became a failure. Ultimately, she took up a plantation with 23 slaves in the neighboring colony of Rio Demerary, where she died shortly after the death of her husband in 1777.

Recently, various publications have appeared about Suzanne Caron, detailing her life and art, particularly focusing on her most famous but now lost work: a portrait of Corsican patriot Pascal Paoli (1725-1807). Although that pastel has disappeared, the preliminary drawing has survived, which bears a striking resemblance to our painting (see image below). It is tempting to think that our painting is the lost portrait of Paoli, but that seems impossible because it is dated 1763, and Caron was still in Paris at that time. The Paoli portrait was supposedly made in Amsterdam. So, for now, this portrait remains anonymous.

Suzanne (or Susanne) had clearly mastered the art of pastel, as can be seen in the delicate application of the material in this fine painting. By using simple shades of grey, she has achieved luminosity and life in the portrait; the man exudes innocence and benevolence. The elongated eyebrows, slightly oval eyes, and slight smile seem to be characteristic of her style, as can also be seen in her excellent portrait of André-Daniel Laffon de Ladebat from the same year, now in the Musées de Bordeaux.

She left a very small recorded oeuvre: 7 paintings are registered in Jeffares’s Dictionary of Pastellists before 1800, of which only 3 are known to survive today (including our portrait), and 4 were recorded from 18th-century sources. The RKD lists another pastel portrait (see link below).


Neil Jeffares, Dictionary of Pastellists before 1800, Unicorn Publishing Group, 2006.

Anne Lafont (ed.), Plumes et pinceaux : Discours de femmes sur l’art en Europe (1750-1850), Publications de l’Institut national d’histoire de l’art, 2012.

Kees van Strien, ‘De pastelliste Susanne Caron : Wereldberoemd en snel vergeten’ in: De Achttiende Eeuw, Volume 53, Issue 1, jan. 2021, pp. 19 - 38 .

Kees van Strien & Lieke van Deinsen, The true likeness of a true patriot : Susanne Caron's portrait of Pascal Paoli, The Rijksmuseum bulletin ; 69 1 P. 4-25.


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