Portrait of Madame Pastoret is an 1829 painting by French Romantic artist Paul Delaroche. This work is located in the Museum of Fine Arts Boston in Boston, Massachusetts.
Madame Pastoret, also known as Anne-Louise Germaine Necker, Baronne de Staël-Holstein, was a prominent and influential woman in 18th and early 19th-century France. Born on April 22, 1766, she was the daughter of Jacques Necker, a finance minister under Louis XVI, and Suzanne Curchod, a well-educated woman who ran a literary salon.
Madame Pastoret grew up in an intellectually stimulating environment, surrounded by thinkers, writers, and political figures of her time. Her mother’s salon, frequented by Enlightenment philosophers like Voltaire and Diderot, played a crucial role in shaping her intellectual curiosity.
In 1786, she married Swedish diplomat Baron Erik Magnus Staël von Holstein, and the couple had several children. Widowed in 1802, she later married Albert de Rocca, a young officer.
Madame Pastoret gained fame for her own intellectual achievements, becoming a prominent figure in French literary and political circles. She was known for her wit, charm, and extensive knowledge in literature and philosophy. Her salon became a hub for intellectuals, including Benjamin Constant and August Wilhelm Schlegel.
Her political involvement intensified during the French Revolution and its aftermath. She expressed her views on the revolution through her writings and engaged in political discussions. However, her moderate political stance, critical of both revolutionary excesses and authoritarian rule, led to conflicts with radical factions.
Madame Pastoret faced challenges during the Reign of Terror, and her husband was imprisoned. Later, during the Napoleonic era, she found herself in opposition to Napoleon’s rule. Her critical views on authoritarianism and her defense of individual liberties led to her exile from France by Napoleon in 1803.
She spent her later years traveling through Europe, including extended periods in Switzerland and Germany. Madame Pastoret continued to write, producing works on literature, philosophy, and politics. She died in Paris on July 14, 1817.
Madame Pastoret’s legacy endures through her contributions to French intellectual and political life during a tumultuous period. Her writings, salon, and engagement with leading thinkers of her time reflect her role as a key figure in the cultural and political landscape of late 18th and early 19th-century France.