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François-Hubert Drouais, Madame de Pompadour at her Tambour Frame

Key facts
Full title Madame de Pompadour at her Tambour Frame
Artist François-Hubert Drouais
Artist dates 1727 - 1775
Date made 1763-4
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 217 × 156.8 cm
Inscription summary Signed; Dated and inscribed
Acquisition credit Bought, 1977
Inventory number NG6440
Location Room 33
Collection Main Collection
Madame de Pompadour at her Tambour Frame
François-Hubert Drouais

Although the grandest of the many portraits of Madame de Pompadour, this is also the most naturalistic image of her, which avoids the rigid formality or mythological trappings of much court portraiture. The former mistress of Louis XV, Madame de Pompadour had become an international celebrity by the end of her life, when this portrait was painted. However, she is presented here in her apartment at Versailles as an almost matronly figure embodying bourgeois virtue and industry as she works at a tapestry accompanied by one of her dogs.

She was an important patron of the fine, applied and performing arts and a leader of taste in matters of fashion and style, particularly the Rococo style. The objects around her testify to her interest in the arts and literature. Close examination reveals that the portrait is in fact made up of two canvases. A smaller canvas – including the head, shoulders and right forearm – has been incorporated into the larger full-length portrait.

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