- NAME: Madame de Pompadour
- OCCUPATION: Theater Actress, Singer, Political Leader
- BIRTH DATE: c. December 29, 1721
- DEATH DATE: April 15, 1764
- EDUCATION: Convent of the Ursuline Order, Club de l'Entresol
- PLACE OF BIRTH: Paris, France
- PLACE OF DEATH: Versailles, France
- Full Name: Jeanne-Antoinette Poisson, Marquise de Pompadour
- AKA: Madame de Pompadour
- Nickname: "Reinette" ("Little Queen")
- AKA: Jeanne-Antoinette Le Normant d'Etiolles
- AKA: Jeanne-Antoinette Poisson
Best Known For
Madame de Pompadour became the mistress of French King Louis XV in the mid-1700s. She greatly influenced French culture during this time, including decorative arts, architecture and statecraft.
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Sadly, the little girl died before turning 10; Fanfan's grandfather, who adored the child, died shortly afterward. Madame de Pompadour is said to have never recovered from the dual loss.
Louis XV and Madame de Pompadour shared an appreciation for architecture and other decorative arts, and of animals, amassing a menagerie that included monkeys,
birds and more domestic constant companions: her little dog and his white angora cat. Madame de Pompadour's romantic ardor waned first, and her maid reported that she lived on a diet of "vanilla, truffles and celery" to stimulate passions for the king.
Madame de Pompadour eventually provided substitutes for herself in the boudoir while engaging Louis XV's passions in other areas; she had her brother appointed director of buildings and, together, the trio planned and built chateaux, pavilions and palaces, including the Petit Trianon in Versailles. Each construction included extravagant detail and decoration by France's premier artists, such as painter Francois Boucher. Madame de Pompadour also kick-started the Sèvres porcelain factory, and employed the Rococo style copiously in art and decor; a deep pink popular in this décor became known as "Pompadour Pink."
Additionally, Madame de Pompadour became a patron to men of science and letters, encouraging the king to hire Voltaire as the court historiographer, and championing the first French encyclopedia. Her personal library held more than 3,500 volumes.
Eventually, Madame de Pompadour was involved in everything from designing the Place de la Concorde in Paris, to court affairs and foreign policy. Careers rose and fell with her favor and she maintained her lofty position, despite many enemies at court, until her death in 1764.
Madame de Pompadour's weakened health, from several miscarriages and a painful struggle with tuberculosis, brought about her death on Easter Day in 1764 (April 15, 1764), at the Palace of Versailles. She was buried two days later, beside her daughter at the Chapel of the Capuchin Friars in Place Vendome.
Considered one of the three most powerful women of the 18th century, along with Catherine the Great of Russia (Catherine II) and Maria Theresa of Austria, Madame de Pompadour certainly went through fortunes in her zeal for unique and beautiful surroundings. Her enemies blamed her for France's failure in the Seven Years' War and its subsequent economic shoals.
However, respect for her vibrant wit, varied interests and keen intelligence has given Madame de Pompadour a better reputation over the years. A British regiment became known as "The Pompadours" for using a shade of purple that is said to have been her favorite. Also named after her are flowers, kitten heels, the hairstyle known as "the Pompadour" and the starship SS Madame de Pompadour—a vessel in the British Dr. Who series; Madame de Pompadour is even portrayed in one episode of Dr. Who, "Girl in the Fireplace."
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