Madame de Pompadour
A 19th century replica of the magnificent and imposing life-size portrait of Madame de Pompadour, which now hangs in the Louvre, is being offered for sale by specialist picture dealer Nicholas Price.
Exquisitely executed in pastel, this is not only an exact replica, but is also the largest and finest known copy of the picture commissioned by Madame de Pompadour herself from the artist Maurice-Quentin Delatour (1704-1788). The original was exhibited in the Paris Salon of 1755 and is never loaned for exhibition on account of its delicate state.
This superb, though unsigned, copy of Madame de Pompadour probably dates to the late 1830s. The attention to detail is painstaking and even the frame is an exact copy of the version by Delatour. Quite why it was executed, by whom and for what purpose still remains a mystery.
Nicholas Price said: “In my 35 years as an art dealer I cannot remember when there has been an opportunity to acquire such an iconic image. If anyone wants to furnish a grand apartment with a painting that epitomises the wealth and grandeur of eighteenth century France, this portrait has everything – size, quality, intrigue and beauty. It is an exceptional work of art“.
Madame de Pompadour was one of the most influential and attractive women in 18th century France. She became the official mistress of French King Louis XV at the age of 23, and from then until her death 20 years later she also served as his counsellor. She was involved in almost everything including court patronage and foreign policy. Careers rose and fell with her favour and due to her fidelity and discretion she managed to maintain her lofty position, despite many enemies at court.
A leading fashion icon, Madame de Pompadour was one of the few women to play a decisive role in the political, intellectual and artistic life of 18th century Europe. A great collector and patron of the arts, she influenced a generation of artists and musicians and the elegance of the 18th century can almost be labelled as being in the “Pompadour style”.
The portrait shows Madame de Pompadour as a protector of the arts seated in a collector’s cabinet, decorated with blue-green panelling accented in gold, surrounded by attributes symbolizing literature, music, astronomy and engraving. The sumptuousness of her clothing – a spectacular French-style dress in fashion around 1750 – shows a tendency to ostentation, while the absence of jewellery and the simplicity of her coiffure underscore the portrait’s personal nature.