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Madame Necker (Suzanne Curchod).
|Died||6 May 1794
|Known for||Necker-Enfants Malades Hospital, salonist|
|Children||Madame de Staël|
Suzanne Curchod (1737 – 6 May 1794) was a French-Swiss salonist and writer. She hosted one of the most celebrated salons of the Ancien Régime. She was the wife of Jacques Necker, and is often referenced in historical documents as Madame Necker.
Daughter of Louis Antoine Curchod, the pastor of the village of Crassier in the canton of Vaud, Switzerland, and Magdelaine d'Albert de Nasse. 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. Mademoiselle Curchod's life changed dramatically upon the deaths of her parents in 1760 and 1763. In 1764 she broke finally with Gibbon and married the ambitious Swiss financier Jacques Necker. They had one child, a daughter named Germaine (1766-1817), 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.
In Paris a hospital she founded in 1784 still bears the Necker name which today treats sick children.
- (French) Paul-Gabriel d'Haussonville, Le Salon de Madame Necker, Paris, Calmann-Lévy, 1882, 2 volumes.
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