Shelved Dolls: Madame du Barry – Cinder-F*ckin’-Ella

In some ways, I think you can actually feel much more for Madame du Barry than for Madame de Pompadour. Pompadour, for all she is, as Dr. Who says “uncrowned Queen of France, actress, artist, musician, dancer, courtesan and fantastic gardener” she was also a very ambitious woman. She did plot to land King Louis.

Personally, I don’t think this is really a negative trait of Pompadour’s – though I will say that one of the only recorded fights she had with Louis XV was when she left her husband. After she abandoned him to be King Louis’s mistress, her husband wrote her a long, admittedly overwrought letter begging her not to leave him. In what seems like an uncharacteristically mean moment Pompdour showed the letter to Louis thinking that he’d find it funny. Louis replied that was inappropriate and that “your husband seems a very decent sort of man, Madam.” Which, well, go Louis.

But, that aside, I do think the fact that she went after Louis indicates that Pompadour knew what she was getting herself into. Moreover, it indicates that she really wanted what she was getting herself into.

Madame du Barry had no idea what she was in for.

How could she?

Unlike Madame de Pompadour, Madame du Barry wasn’t hosting cozy salons for Voltaire to read his newest works before becoming Louis’s mistress. She wasn’t doing that because, before she met Louis, she was a prostitute.

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    • Ellen W.

      Can I be “Team NOT Marie Antoinette?” (Yes, I know she was treated very badly and didn’t have an easy life. But you’re the one who decided we had to pick a team!)

      There are things to love about both of them and I want to have Pompadour’s cleverness and taste, but du Barry’s generosity and optimism. Okay, fine, and Marie Antoinette’s poise.

      • Jennifer Wright

        Everyone is allowed to be team not Marie Antoinette. Though honestly, I never really got why Marie Antoinette and du Barry didn’t become friends. Both of them were strangers to the Court’s customs (M.A. was Austrian) hated by the public and known for having kind of vulgar tastes. Especially since the last Queen and Pompadour were buddies! Though I suppose that goes along with disliking people because they show traits we dislike in ourselves.

      • Naomi

        I imagine that if nothing else, Marie Antoinette was very concerned about fitting in at Versailles and being on the court’s good side. It’s like the new girl in school being a twat to fit in with the popular mean girls.

    • Adrienne

      It was hard to pick a team (although I picked Pompadour) as I think I would like both in their own ways! Thanks Jennifer yet again for picking such interesting dolls to profile!

    • Naomi

      You and I feel precisely the same way about both Pompadour and du Barry. We should be friends.

    • Lisa

      Do more research and read the book by Stanley Loomis, which is better description of Madame du Barry. She was perhaps more educated than the ladies at court. The hatred of her was partly due to her up bringing, but mostly due to jealousy… Being the mistress of the king was a very coveted position.

    • Lisa

      Madame du Barry was kind, and a great lover and supporter of the arts. Madame Pompadour, from what, I have read was a on wheels… Madame du Barry was also a friend of Voltaire. She was an good cook, since her mother worked from time to time as a cook. In the convent she became educated, as I stated earlier.. and refined in manners probably more so than some of the royal women, who hated her. Madame du Barry was also the first to wear assorted gems together, and also one of the first to use the services Rose Bertin , later deemed dress maker to the Queen.

    • Lisa

      Also for the record,du Barry was pretty happy and lived a damn good life, up until Mr.Greive got hold of her and Zamor and others, turned on her.