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Malerei als Augentrug. Alexander Roslins Selbstporträt mit Marie-Suzanne Giroust-Roslin an der Staffelei

Marianne Koos

Published online:

22 Nov 2020



This article examines the unique self-portrait of Alexander Roslin and his artist wife, Marie- Suzanne Giroust-Roslin (1767, Stockholm, Nationalmuseum), in which a male painter for once leaves the place at the easel to a painting woman. This complex multi-figure painting not only commemorates the couple’s friendship with the sitter, Henrik Villhelm Peill. Rather, it is conceived as a double image of love and advertisement – especially for her art. Further, with this painting Roslin takes a programmatic stand for his own concept of painting as much as for that of his wife: Criticized by Denis Diderot in 1765 for not painting but – like women at the toilet table – literally applying makeup, in this selfportrait with his painting wife Roslin undertakes a conspicuous narrowing of these (so different) activities. Roslin takes up the reproach of beautiful appearance and deception in order to let this criticism collapse in a second moment in the artistic concept of the artful deception of the eye – in a deceptively real painting, which – unlike women’s makeup – negates all difference between being and appearance. An in-depth analysis of the extraordinarily refined self-portrait of Madame Roslin with the laughing self-portrait of Maurice-Quentin de La Tour supports this interpretation. In a broader perspective this study is understood as a contribution to the investigation into the metaphorization of painting layers, picture surfaces, and forms of color application in pre-modern art and art criticism.

Other articles in this issue:

Zeitschrift für Kunstgeschichte Issues

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Volume 85 (2022)
Volume 84 (2021)
Volume 83 (2020)
Volume 82 (2019)
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