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Drouais – Madame de Pompadour at her tambour frame

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Francois-Hubert Drouais: Madame de Pompadour at her Tambour Frame: 1763-4

This is Madame de Pompadour. Erstwhile mistress to Louis XV of France – renowned beauty, wit and patron of the arts.

The heavy silk curtain swirls around and its line is taken up in the rich white silk of her gown. Madame de Pompadour always had a keen eye for how she was presented, and the objects in this picture have been chosen to show her as a cultured and intelligent woman. There’s a mandolin on the floor on the right leaning against an artist’s portfolio – stressing her love of music and art; the books in the bookcase show her to be well read. She’s at work on a tambour screen – a type of embroidery – and looks almost matronly.

This representation of domesticity was a definite decision on her part, as she was probably the most powerful woman in France at this time. As well as being the King’s mistress she exercised a great deal of influence, with a big say in Royal patronage as well as in domestic and international policy. Continue reading