The Lady with the Veil is by far the best-known and most popular of all Alexander Roslin's paintings.
It is signed Roslin 1768. The model is his wife. She was a pastel painter and her name was Marie-Suzanne Giroust. She is dressed à la Boulognaise - that is, after the manner of women from Bologna in Italy. Part of the fascination of this portrait is the model's gaze, partly secretive and hidden behind her veil. When the painting was put on show at the Parisian Salon, the critic Diderot found it très piquante.
Alexander Roslin was born the same year that Charles XII died, in 1718. This was a period of material reconstruction in Sweden. People were simply unable to afford the vanity and luxury which the fine arts were considered part of, and so young artists - Alexander Roslin among them - went abroad to search for a living. He was born in Skåne, in the south of Sweden, and learned to paint in Stockholm. In the mid-1740s he was court painter at Bayreuth. He went on an educational tour of Italy and in 1752 came to Paris. He then spent the rest of his life in France, except for two years in the service of Catherine II in St Petersburg, and it was in that connection that he passed through Sweden again.