Mademoiselle Nation
March 18, 2005 2:50 PM   Subscribe

Anyone know of any good books, plays, or other material about Suzanne Le Peletier de Saint-Fargeau, a.k.a. "Mademoiselle Nation"? She was an eleven-year-old girl adopted by the French revolutionaries after her father's murder by a royalist. Her portrait by Jacques-Louis David is currently on display at the Getty in Los Angeles, and as the book blog Romancing the Tome says the story of her life would make for excellent reading. Surely she's found her way into print by now?
posted by Asparagirl to Media & Arts (3 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite've obviously searched around. There's really nothing is there !!?(and I had a GOOD look using all my known searching abilities en anglais and in french - not that I'm a search star or anything)

There was this, but I sense you've probably seen it. And it doesn't answer your question of course.
I was intrigued - I started an Arts degree many moons ago and quit after studying the French Rev. (not because of it). Her story would be very interesting for sure.

OMG...sounds like a job for an actual physical library!

There MUST !! be something around.....someone of such renown....even if only entries in French encyclopedias...sounds like a good book writing project otherwise.

Last thought....did you search on her dad?
Please let me know if something turns up.
posted by peacay at 6:34 AM on March 19, 2005

Actually......there's a little more around searching with "suzanne Lepeletier" [and maybe more with lepeLLetier - this is my last contribution - bedtime here in Oz] ...

see 'French Politics Culture and Society': a journal article (pdf) - (Vol. 17, No. 3-4, p.31) but obviously it won't be much (the article is via subscription - or you'd have to find a well stocked library ... unless it is only available online via subscription...not sure)

There's a big .pdf here but it is in french and called: "L’invention de la sphère domestique au sortir de la Révolution".
There's not much info there anyway.....but you gotta love the googlelator:

"Suzanne Lepeletier is all the opposite of this emigrated young person shown to have fled its country. Girl of Conventional assassinated, orphan of mother, it was adopted by the Parliament like girl of the nation, then raised by her uncle. When this last, shown to have taken share with the Conspiracy of Babeuf, loses its civil laws (thus those which it had, as a tutor, on its niece), Suzanne, then 15 years old, obtains its emancipation; little time after, being seen opposing to its project of marriage a categorical refusal of his/her grandfather and his uncles, it carries the business in front of a board of guardians; this one wire-drawer that the French National Assembly, as "an adoptive father" of Suzanne, must intervene to prevent the marriage, and sends for this purpose a petition with the Directors. A commission is installation; a wide-ranging debate opens December 1797 at February 1798 during which is discussed, beyond the particular case of the girl, the question of the national adoption and at the end which Jean-Pierre Chazal, rapporteur of the Commission, deny with the Nation the possibility of being other thing that a "honorary father": not being able neither to die, nor to bequeath its goods to her children, not having consequently the duty to protect its inheritance (justification of the parental rights), it has any possibility of being opposed to the marriage of the one of her "children". Consequently, Suzanne is seen admitting the full capacity to decide only its marriage; in other words, and although girl of the fatherland, it has from now on a right, independent of this national membership: that to be a only judge of his matrimonial fate. Suzanne profits on the matter to be the girl of nobody more, member of any family..."
posted by peacay at 7:35 AM on March 19, 2005

Response by poster: Thanks so much, peacay! There's excrutiatingly little information online about Suzanne, but I did find this story (link to Google cache, since the page is down). Apparently, she sued for emancipation from her "national parent" at 15, and the court case (can a country be a parent?) was fiercely debated. She sued so that she'd have the right to choose her husband, and she married a guy at a young age, had two kids. Then the kids died (haven't been able to discover why), and she divorced the guy. She commissions Jacques-Louis David to paint her portrait--he took very few commissions--and meant to use it as a gift to her new fiancee, who was her cousin, with the stipulation that the painting stay in her family forever. He paints this (and possibly others of her and her family), but absconds with the art. She gets them back, and burns all of them at her family castle, and the link implies she may have shut up some of the art in its walls, as it was undergoing reconstruction at the time (1820). But this painting survived and no one's quite sure why. The other art, if it's ever found, could be priceless.

Oh, and she ended up becoming a fierce royalist.

PLEASE, somebody write this book!
posted by Asparagirl at 3:01 PM on March 19, 2005

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