c.1750. Oil on canvas. 62.5 x 46 cm. Waddesdon Manor, The Rothschield Collection, Waddesdon, Buckinghamshire, UK. Read Note.
Marquise de Pompadour
Jeanne Antoinette Poisson was born in Paris in 1721, supposedly into the wealthy family of Le Normant de Tournehem. In 1741 she was married to Le Normant’s nephew, Le Normant d’Étoiles, and in the same year became a fashion queen and caught the eye of Louis XV at a ball.
Shortly afterwards she was installed at Versailles and received the title of Marquise de Pompadour. She quickly gained control of public affairs and for the next twenty years used her newfound power to sway the policy of the state to fulfill her personal ambitions. After being ridiculed by Frederick II the Great of Prussia, Madame de Pompadour completely changed the traditional policy of France, filled all public offices with her own nominees and appointed her favorites as ministers of France.
Madame de Pompadour’s reign was disastrous for the country, both because of her policy and because of her mismanagement of wars. She founded the École Militaire and the royal factory at Sèvres. Much of her expenses went into commissions from many poets and painters.
Surprisingly, Madame de Pompadour managed to hold her difficult position until her death in 1764. She remained in the king’s favor by distracting him with private theatricals, relieving him of all business and tolerating his debaucheries.