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 Marquise de Pompadour... 
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Post Re: Marquise de Pompadour...
I read Evelyne Lever's recent biography, which was very good.

For me this lady was quite exceptional, and if she had so much influence over policy, it was because she was very shrewd, and the King consulted her regularly. She was the closest thing a French monarch has had to a lasting prime minister, and those who were clever soon realized that she was "incontournable" (unavoidable) She ardently defended Louis XV's position as the monarch against a parliament already starting to defy him, signs of later things. To reduce her to a purely sexual rôle would be to greatly under-estimate her capacities, but as a favourite she was always at the mercy of the King's favour, and could have been sent away at any time. But to his credit he never let her down, he needed her too greatly! She accepted his debauchery, but never got accustomed to it. And got on as well as one could hope with the Queen!

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Thu Feb 07, 2008 5:12 pm
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Post Re: Marquise de Pompadour...
Quite right baron, she had a great sense of style, sense of humor, sense of statecraft. She was the 18th century alpha-female.

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Sat Feb 09, 2008 11:04 pm
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Post Re: Marquise de Pompadour...
She certainly is. This definately comes to show " Behind every great man, there is a woman." I don't know why, it seems to me that they treated each other as equals. Instead of the King and the "kept" mistress we usually see with monarchs. I believe maybe the reason why is that since she came from a middle class family, she was able to have a taste of how the rich lived, yet not having too many luxuries, Madame Pompdour, she could see how the state should work. I don't know. I just couldn't help but think of Aristotle saying essentially that the wealthy should not rule because all thier lives they have been disobeying, while the poor will get too greedy and be too bitter by not having food, and that the middle class should rule because they have enough food not to angry, yet they still follow the law. I apologize for the long winded message. :)

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Sat Feb 23, 2008 5:36 am
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Post Re: Marquise de Pompadour...
Mme de Pompadour is such an important figure in French 18th cent history
she presided at the very top of French society for around 20 years
at a time when French art... furniture... tapestries.. paintings.. prints
literature etc was probably at its most sublime and magnificent....

,,, its such a huge subject... the enchanting lady deserves a forum of her very own !


Mon Jun 15, 2009 1:46 pm
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Post Re: Marquise de Pompadour...
This is one of the definitive sites online regarding Mme. de Pompadour:
http://www.madamedepompadour.com/_eng_pomp/home.htm

You may come across an online community through browsing the external links from the site, although I am surprised they do not have their own.

Maybe you could start your own, silverstar?

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Tue Jun 16, 2009 12:15 am
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Post Re: Marquise de Pompadour...
THANKS for the link, nice site dedicated to Jeanne Fish
yes, you d think they d attach a little forum to it would nt you ?


Tue Jun 16, 2009 5:37 pm
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Post Re: Marquise de Pompadour...
silverstar wrote:
THANKS for the link, nice site dedicated to Jeanne Fish
yes, you d think they d attach a little forum to it would nt you ?

Why don't you ask around? If you gather some like-minded people on the internet to lobby them, they may just set one up!

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Tue Jun 16, 2009 11:48 pm
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Post Re: Marquise de Pompadour...
This, for me, expresses her position well:
"The history of Madame de Pompadour for the next twenty years is the history of France. The new mistress was more than a female Prime Minister-she was, in fact, the concubine-Queen of the coutnry; and, in the name of an apathetic monarch, incapable of any initiative, she exercised an ineffaceable influence on the destinies of France and of Europe."
http://books.google.com/books?id=JusEAA ... r&as_brr=1
p. 498

Charles S. Forbes, "The Reign of Louis XV", "The Edinburgh Review" v. 125 April 1867 (470-515)
The entire article is worth reading on the reign of Louis XV

She obtained this exalted position - which she used more wisely than many kings - the only way she could: by sex. Later her hold on the king was said to be based on familiarity and understanding, but she would never have gotten to that point without the first "entry card". It's easy to be horrified by that now, when women have incrementally gained more power (even if several, even today, have made more money through one strategic marriage than many ever will through professional efforts). But at the time it was the only tool she had and she used it. She made mistakes - as did all the born monarchs as well - (she is to some degree blamed for France's entry into the Seven Years' War), but her influence on culture has endured, and the Philosophers owed her some debt as well.

She is also the one who said, though in a more trivial context, "After us the flood". Got that right...

Otherwise, lovers of costume who read French might enjoy these detailed descriptions of the costumes used in Pompadour's private theater:
Madame de Pompadour et la cour de Louis XV au milieu du dix-huitième siècle
By Émile Campardon, Abel François Poisson Marigny, François Basan, F. Ch Joullain p.430, ff
http://books.google.com/books?id=8gZXAA ... r&as_brr=1

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Wed Jun 17, 2009 6:28 am
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Post Re: Marquise de Pompadour...
She presided at the top of society for 20 years, commisioning works of art
hosting all kinds of social events... bringing together rich patrons
with artists and writers.... she was a social catalyst !
Add to that she was a real beauty too... far more beautiful that
Marie Antoinette

Marie then had her 20 years at the top.. a kind of successor
to Mme Pompadour.. though times had changes and the Royal train
was soon to hit the buffers.


Wed Jun 17, 2009 1:49 pm
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Post Re: Marquise de Pompadour...
silverstar wrote:
Marie then had her 20 years at the top.. a kind of successor
to Mme Pompadour.

A comparison which would have enraged her. She was after all born royalty, and very probably considered royal mistresses as expensive whores.

Ironically, in fact, MA, who I have seen described as a "tyrant", wielded far less power than Mme. Pompadour ever did. For one thing, I don't think she wanted to (Miss Fish very much did). But paradoxically it also would have been more unseemly for her to attempt to do so. Her very official status confined her in defined roles, just as the slightly "outlaw" status of a mistress led people to almost expect somewhat more unpredictable behavior.

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Wed Jun 17, 2009 6:03 pm
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Post Re: Marquise de Pompadour...
Somewhat by chance, I've found myself reading a bio of Coco Chanel, who comes across as a combination of Edith Piaf and Mme. de Pompadour. Like Piaf, she had a hard-scrabble childhood, and lost the one great love her life just as she was otherwise successful. But the closer comparison is to Jeanne Fish.

It strikes me that both these women were patrons of the arts, as much as any men known in that role. Partially because they were mistresses (Chanel too got a leg up by letting powerful men get a leg over), both were nudged to the outskirts of society, where they were best accepted by artists and thinkers - in Coco's case, Picasso (who would NOT sleep with her, the dog), Stravinsky (who did, and told his wife about it - "Whom else could I confide such a thing to?") and DIaghelev (Does Not Apply), to whom she was discretely and touchingly generous. And of course one could write a very interesting paper comparing the two women's influence on fashion and aesthetics in general. Coco didn't just do fashion - she not only was the first designer to claim her own scent, she gave it an almost masculine bottle and a frankly un-pretty name ("No 5"). Etc.

Would that I knew more about fashion. I'd love to write a piece where Pompadour and Chanel confer. They would have had a lot to talk about - before they went for each other (there's really only room for one such woman per epoch).

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Mon Jun 22, 2009 5:43 pm
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Post Re: Marquise de Pompadour...
Jimcheval is shaming me, I started (prob the very same) biog of Coco last
year but got distracted and did nt get to the end of it.
You re probably right, Coco was a leader of Parisian society.. of fashion
just like Mme Pompadour...200 years before !

Reading my notes the other night I came across this....

' In 1748 Mme Pompadour purchased a site on a steep bank
overlooking the Seine...... between Sevres and Meidon.
800 workers spent 2 and 1/2 years building what was to become
.... "Bellevue " which Mme Pompadour then had decorated by the top artists
in France.'

Although it fell to ruin in later years... there must still be a lot of
stonework lying around... maybe worth a little investigation for anyone in
the vicinity !


Last edited by silverstar on Mon Jun 22, 2009 10:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Mon Jun 22, 2009 6:14 pm
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Post Re: Marquise de Pompadour...
Yes its called the Château de Champs sur Marne where "Les Liaisons dangéreuses" was filmed. I beg to differ with Jimcheval that Mme de Pompadour was pushed to the edge of society; she was the closest thing to a prime minister that a French Sovereign has had, with the possible exception of Mazarin for Anne of Austria or Richelieu for Louis XIII. Far from being on the edge, I feel she was at the centre of everything.

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Mon Jun 22, 2009 9:36 pm
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Post Re: Marquise de Pompadour...
But that was the paradox of both women - both had central places in their own society, but had at the least to fight for any acceptance they ultimately got.

Don't forget that Louis XV could not go to her funeral when she died - there's a touching vignette of him weeping and saying something like "This is all I can do for her". Her own (much-abused) husband didn't got either, but that was by choice.

For the more devout (like the dauphin) she would always remain the mistress (essentially, a whore). It took quite a bit of royal pressure to even enforce hypocrisy. And in the eyes of the Church her bond with the king was adultery, pure and simple.

The Duke de Richelieu, no angel himself, went out of his way to thwart her when she established her private theater - until his buddy Louis genially asked him how many times he'd been in the Bastille (I believe it was twice at that point).

Her life was filled with this sort of battle with people of the "right sort" who were horrified to find her in their midst.

The idea that Pompadour bonded with the philosophers (for example) because she needed allies in an alternate sector of society is hardly a new one. And enemies like the Marquis D'Argenson gloated when they thought she was finally falling out of favor (prematurely, it always turned out). So her (very real) power was always wielded from a tightrope that many were only too willing to shake.

There's a story in the Coco bio of her watching high society go into a ball she could not go to because she was a dressmaker - a much esteemed dressmaker, but a dressmaker still. Only when an aristocrat friend boycotted the same event did she start move towards entree (which she ultimately got, thus establishing yet another first).

It would take a very long essay to exactly define either woman's place in her society, but a certain "outsider" quality was central to both, even as they increasingly gained power and prestige. And I'm sure it marked them and their attitudes even at the pinnacles of their respective successes.

Culture, in the main, is the richer for it.

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Tue Jun 23, 2009 5:47 pm
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Post Re: Marquise de Pompadour...
I thought that the French Rev was supposed to have decimated
the French Aristocracy.... but it seems they survived into the
20th cent.
The point when Napoleon took over France was probably significant...
the whole society became militaristic and Napoleon and his army held sway.
Eventually Napolean began to favour the old aristocracy and nobility who have always been a bulwark of the military in France.
So much so that he encouraged his officer class to marry into the families of the old nobility.

What did that French revolution actually achieve ? it destroyed the Monarchy root and branch but the Aristocracy and the elite of society survived and flourished.


Tue Jun 23, 2009 6:38 pm
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