The Chateau of Coppet: Portrait Salon

In this room, the portraits of the Necker family and their descendants have been brought together.

Jacques Necker

Portrait of Jacques Necker (1732 – 1804). Oil on canvas by Jean-Silfred Duplessis

First of all a portrait of Necker, painted by Duplessis in 1781. Louis XVIth Finance Minister, a bit heavy, majestic, wearing a brown velvet suit. Duplessis has also painted his wife, Mme Necker.

Suzanne Curchod

Mme Necker, born Curchod (1737 – 1794) by Jean-Silfred Duplessis

Suzanne Curchod was the daughter of the priest in Crassier, a small village around Coppet. She followed her husband in his social and political ascent. She was pretty, well educated and a bit pedantic. She had a literature salon in Paris where the intellectual and social elite of her day met. She is wearing a white satin dress. Her powdered hair high above her head and decorated with a white lace. The light shawl highlights a simple corset.

Mme Necker kept watch over her daughter Germaine’s education. She wanted to form her spirit by letting her join in the conversations at her salon.

Germaine Necker

Their only daughter, Germaine (1766 – 1817) at the age of 14 in a red chalk drawing by Carmontelle

A red charcoal drawing shows us, Germaine, little girl at the age of 14, sitting upright on a small chair. She is dressed in a full dress, her bodice pulled tight. She wears a very high, stiff hairdo, and the child seems to participate in a conversation.

Le baron de Staël-Holstein

Eric-Magnus Baron de Staël-Holstein ( 1749 – 1802 ), Mme de Staëls husband by Wertmüller 

Not having filled the role of an ideal husband, Mr. de Staël is nevertheless present here. A Swedish painter, Wertmüller, shows him at the age of thirty three. He wears a black velvet uniform with a red braid. Attached to it is the key of chamberlain from the queen of Sweden. He is handsome and one understands the charm with which he seduced the ladies of the Court before his marriage.

Auguste de Staël

Auguste de Staël ( 1790 – 1827) represented in front of the Castle of Coppet by François Gérard

The portraits of two of Madame de Staël`s children face each other: August, draped in a black coat, leans on a rock. In the background you can see Coppet and there is a lightening storm over the lake of Geneva. A truly romantic composition. On the left of the opened fire you can see Albertine together with her mother in a painting by Mme Vigée-Lebrun

Albertine de Staël

A portrait of Albertine de Staël, Duchess of Broglie (1797 – 1838) Oil painting by Ary Schaeffer

His sister Albertine, duchess of Broglie, is no longer the girl that we have seen in Tieck's bust. Her face is thinner and her expression is melancholic. This is undoubtedly the way she appeared to Ary Schaeffer, after the death of her daughter Pauline in 1832. A charming portrait of Louise de Broglie, (1817- 1882), by Laure de Lesmenil. She was Albertine's daughter and married the Count d'Haussonville.

Mme de Staël

Mme de Staël (1766 – 1817) by the painter Gérard showing her as her contemporaries knew her best

Finally, in the center of the wall regally sits the lady of the house. This is a posthumous portrait, painted by Gérard, at the request of her children. She is wearing one of her famous turbans, under which escape her black curls. She wears a brown dress, Empire style, and a dark cashmere shawl. In her hand is a small branch that she had the habit of playing with during conversations.

She seems to be speaking to a circle of admirers whom she charmed with dazzling conversation. Her arms and hands are not those of a traditional beauty, but one understands the words of one of her contemporaries: “Beautiful, ugly? I do not know: she spoke, I listened to her and I have only seen her eyes and her mouth.”

So lively in the place where she reigned, she still seems to be speaking to us today.

Bibliographie

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