Self Portrait with his wife Marie Suzanne Giroust Painting a Portrait of Henrik Wilhelm Peill1767 by Alexander Roslin

The Roslin family portrait was painted by Alexander Roslin in 1767. In the summer of 1754, Roslin was asked to take over various purchasing duties in Paris on behalf of Carl Gustaf Tessin. When Henrik Wilhelm Peill, Tessin’s protegé, arrived in Paris on a European study tour in the mid-1760s, Roslin and his wife welcomed Peill with open arms. As a token of the resulting close friendship, Roslin painted the portrait of himself and his wife, Marie Suzanne Giroust, at the easel working on a pastel of Peill. The painting was produced toward the end of Peill’s visit. The portrait within the portrait has never been found, but several copies exist of an earlier version produced by Marie Suzanne Giroust the previous year.

The gold box housing the miniature portrait that Roslin is pointing at is part of the rebus-like nature of the painting and may have been a lavish farewell gift from Peill. The inscription on the frame, Loin et près (“Far away and [yet] close”), makes it clear that the portrait was indeed a token of friendship....

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