period: various portrayals of Madame du Barry

Portrayals of Madame du Barry

Jeanne Bécu, comtesse du Barry (1743–1793) was the last Maîtresse-en-titre of King Louis XV of France and was one of the victims of the Reign of Terror during the French Revolution.

In 1768 she caught the eye of Louis XV while she was on an errand at Versailles but she could become an official royal mistress without a title; this was solved by her marriage on 1 September 1768 to du Barry’s brother, comte Guillaume du Barry, and a false birth making Jeanne threee years younger and of noble descent. She was installed below the King’s quarters and was presented to the Court at Versailles in April 1769. Jeanne was a tremendous triumph, wearing extravagant gowns of great proportions both in creation and cost and became the King’s maîtresse déclarée.

In May 1774 the dying King asked her to leave Versailles as he prepared for confession and receiving the last rites. She retired to her estate near Rueil but after the King’s death she was exiled to the Abbaye du Pont-aux-Dames near Meaux-en-Brie. But two years later she was able to move to the Château de Louveciennes near Versailles.

In 1792 Madame du Barry was suspected of financially assisting émigrés who had fled the French Revolution and she was arrested in 1793. The Revolutionary Tribunal of Paris accused her of treason and condemned her to death. Madame du Barry was guillotined at the Place de la Révolution (nowadays Place de la Concorde) on 8 December 1793. She was buried in the Madeleine Cemetery along with many other victims of the Terror, including Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette.

The movies

Les perles de la couronne (1937): Three narrators tell the story of seven matched pearls, four of them now in the British Crown. Episodes whirl us from Pope Clement VII to Queen Elizabeth I, who receives some of them which have been stolen from Mary Queen of Scots, and onward to Queen Victoria, while others pass through the hands of Madame du Barry (Simone Renant). Both Yvette Pienne and Jacqueline Delubac played multiple roles in the movie. No makeup artists were credited.