period: Madame de Pompadour

Madame de Pompadour

Jeanne Antoinette Poisson, Marquise de Pompadour, also known as Madame de Pompadour (1721–1764) was a member of the French court and was the maîtresse-en-titre of King Louis XV from 1745 to her death.

The Marquise de Pompadour had little formal political influence in France. However, she did wield considerable power and control behind the scenes, as seen when in 1755 by a prominent Austrian diplomat, asking her to intervene in the negotiations which led to the Treaty of Versailles. She also established a cordial relationship with Queen Marie Leszczyńska who said: ‘If there must be a mistress, better her than any other.’ She was an accomplished woman who planned buildings like the Place de la Concorde and the Petit Trianon.

Although she and the King had ceased being lovers by about 1750 they remained friends, and Louis XV was devoted to her until her death from tuberculosis in 1764 at the age of forty-two. Voltaire wrote after her death:

I am very sad at the death of Madame de Pompadour. I was indebted to her and I mourn her out of gratitude. It seems absurd that while an ancient pen-pusher, hardly able to walk, should still be alive, a beautiful woman, in the midst of a splendid career, should die at the age of forty two.’

The movies & TV shows

Doctor Who (2006): Madame de Pompadour (Sophia Myles) was troubled by some annoying mechanical courtiers in the Doctor Who episode ‘The Girl in the Fireplace’. Sheelagh Wells was the makeup designer.

Voltaire (1933): Madame de Pompadour (Doris Kenyon) is Voltaire’s protector and advocate, but even she has difficulty preserving his welfare when Voltaire publicly excoriates the king for the wrongful execution of one of his subjects. I have no information on the makeup credits for this movie.