Suzanne Curchod  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Suzanne Curchod (1737 – 6 May 1794) was the wife of Jacques Necker. She hosted one of the most celebrated salons of the Ancien Régime.

Daughter of the pastor of the village of Crassier in the canton of Vaud, Switzerland, Suzanne was well educated but poor. In 1757 she met the historian Edward Gibbon, who wished to marry her, but paternal disapproval on both sides and Suzanne's refusal to leave Switzerland for England thwarted the plans. In 1764 she broke finally with Gibbon and married the ambitious Swiss financier Jacques Necker. They had one child, a daughter named Germaine, better known as Madame de Staël.

In 1776 her husband became Controller-General of Finances, head of the French finance ministry, this in spite of the double disadvantage of his Protestant religion and Swiss origins. Much of this success he owed to his wife's salon, where the luminaries of Parisian society gathered to discuss art and literature, and to flirt and gossip. Among the regular visitors were Marmontel, La Harpe, Buffon, Grimm, Mably, Bernardin de Saint-Pierre and the compilers of the Encyclopédie including Diderot and d'Alembert. Madame Necker's salons were also a meetingplace for Swiss expatriates such as Madame Geoffrin and the Marquise du Deffand.

Life in Paris, and her husband's dislike of bluestocking authors prevented her from pursuing her interest in writing. Her surviving writings are few: Mémoire sur l'Etablissement des hospices (1786) and Réflexions sur le divorce (1794). She devoted considerable time to ensuring that their daughter Germaine received the very best education available.

After the fall of her husband from power in 1790, the Neckers left Paris and returned to Switzerland. Suzanne died at the castle of Coppet, in Vaud, in 1794.

In Paris a hospital she founded in 1784 still bears the Necker name and today treats sick children.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Suzanne Curchod" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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