Madame Pompadour had to be officially presented to the King at Court before the Queen before she could be anointed a Marquise and be officially acknowledged as the maitresse en titre (the chief mistress of the King of France – a position which came with its own apartments, which Pompadour was already settled in).
And being presented at Versailles was no small feat. It required a lot intricate steps, the trickiest of which was probably executing three low curtsies. Considering the elaborate nature of the court dresses, aristocrats from the court had difficulties executing even one, and Madame Pompadour had not grown up there. After curtsying, the King would be expected to nod at her, and she would withdraw, walking backwards, which would require discreetly kicking her skirt out of the way with each step so as not to expose her feet.
A lot of women fell down. To their massive social disgrace.
To that end, Louis dispatched the abbe Benois to tutor Madame Pompadour. And when the time came, Pompadour was almostÂ flawless. She executed the set perfectly, with only one small lapse.
There was a lapse! But it was a lapse that ultimately worked out well for her.
As she bent to kiss the hem of the Queen’s skirt, a bracelet slipped off her arm. The Queen could have dismissed her curtly, but instead, she turned out to be very kind to Pompadour. She asked after the health of one of the only aristocratic families that Pomadour knew. Madame Pompadour was so grateful that she effusively kissed both the Queen’s hands, and promised her eternal devotion. While her outburst was not considered quite proper, the Queen seemed to appreciate it, and the two were on very good terms throughout Pompadour’s time as mistress – which was important, as Pompadour’s tenure was to last 20 years. Pompadour’s bursts of enthusiasm and good cheer really won the Queen over, and later she said, “Â If there must be a mistress, better her than any other. â€ť