The True Likeness of a True Patriot: Susanne Caron’s Portrait of Pascal Paoli




When the famous Corsican patriot Pascal Paoli (1725-1807) visited the Dutch Republic in 1769 soon after his defeat at the hands of French invaders, he was given a hero’s welcome. Several printed portraits depicting Paoli, a symbol of true patriotism, were circulated and eagerly seized upon by the Dutch public. Perhaps the most striking of these likenesses was painted by the little-known French-born pastellist Susanne Caron (c. 1734-c. 1777) and shortly afterwards engraved in copper by the renowned engraver Jacobus Houbraken (1698-1770). Newspapers throughout Europe claimed this portrait was Paoli’s first ‘true likeness’. This article presents a previously unknown letter by Caron to professor Pieter Burman (1713-1778), the ideologist of the Dutch ‘patriotic’ faction, which provides a fascinating glimpse into the genesis of this remarkable portrait.


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Author Biographies

Kees van Strien

Kees van Strien writes on various eighteenth-century subjects on the basis of archive research: British and French travellers in the Netherlands, Voltaire, Belle de Zuylen and Swiss tutors and their Dutch pupils.

Lieke van Deinsen

Lieke van Deinsen is senior postdoctoral researcher (fwo) and lecturer at the departments of Art History and Dutch Literature at ku Leuven. She was previously a Johan Huizinga Fellow working in the Rijksmuseum’s history department.




How to Cite

van Strien, Kees, and Lieke van Deinsen. 2021. “The True Likeness of a True Patriot: Susanne Caron’s Portrait of Pascal Paoli”. The Rijksmuseum Bulletin 69 (1):5-26.