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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