This compelling new biography of the legendary mistress of King Louis XV of France offers a dramatic insight into the life of one of the most enchanting, powerful, and feared women to grace the world’s stage. The critically acclaimed author of Philippe, duc d’Orléans, Christine Pevitt Algrant presents a new biography of the most famous of Louis XV’s mistresses. From her modest beginnings in early-eighteenth-century Paris, to her reign as the undisputed mistress of Versailles, Madame de Pompadour traces the life of a truly remarkable, self-made woman whose astonishing rise confounded the most experienced and the most sophisticated of her contemporaries.
Algrant weaves her richly textured manuscript with tremendous authority, setting the dramatic events that marked Madame de Pompadour’s life against the defining moments of the times. Groomed from an early age to assume the role of a rich man’s mistress, Jeanne-Antoinette Poisson underwent a number of transformationsfrom a halfhearted marriage to a Parisian tax collector to a lifelong involvement with the financial elite of Francebefore she captivated the king himself and was officially recognized as his maîtresse déclarée. Although accustomed to the king’s extramarital relationships, the court was shocked at the sudden ascension of the low-born Mademoiselle Poisson. The newcomer, however, wasted no time, quickly establishing herself as the king’s sole confidante and, ultimately, his indispensable partner in affairs of state.
Algrant takes the reader into the farthest and most exclusive chambers at Versailles, allowing us to glimpse the resourcefulness and the determination with which the king’s favorite deftly manipulated the factions at the court. She also illuminates Madame de Pompadour’s influence across the artistic and political spectrum of the day, including her relationships with the leaders of the French Enlightenment: Voltaire, Rousseau, and Diderot. Evocative and insightful, Madame de Pompadour is a seductive portrait of one of the most fascinating and influential women of the age.