The real Madame de Pompadour

Lover to companion

Pompadour suffered from increasingly poor health. She miscarried several times, and it became impossible for her to continue a sexual relationship with the King. It seems that in around 1750, their relationship became platonic.

Detail from Drouais, 'Madame de Pompadour at her Tambour Frame', 1763-4
Detail from Drouais, Madame de Pompadour at her Tambour Frame, 1763-4 

However, the royal mistress was not about to relinquish her powerful position. Instead, she moved to a grander set of apartments, and used art to remodel her image.

Detail from Drouais, 'Madame de Pompadour at her Tambour Frame', 1763-4
Detail from Drouais, Madame de Pompadour at her Tambour Frame, 1763-4 

Madame de Pompadour began to commission images of herself based on the theme of friendship. Her final portrait shows her as a respectable, cultured middle-aged woman.

Her dress and surroundings demonstrate her taste and the books, mandolin and portfolio remind us of her intellectual and artistic achievements.

Next: Politics and power

 
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