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

 When Jean sent Jeanne to met with Minister Choiseul, who promptly dismissed her claiming “she was not at all to my taste.”

Jeanne later had Choiseul exiled.

Disappointed, Jeanne decided to watch the King as he walked from Mass to dinner. This wasn’t uncommon at the time, crowds would gather to do so.

At this point, Louis was 53. He was still considered very handsome, but he was in a deep depression, brought on from the nearly simultaneous deaths of his beloved Madame de Pompadour and his Queen. France was also deeply in debt, and he felt that he had lost the love of his subjects. He was also deeply disappointed by the Dauphin (Louis XVI) who had proved himself to be overweight, unattractive, not bright, and shockingly socially inept. But a really good lock maker. (Louis XV might have been more sympathetic if he knew that by today’s standards Louis XVI is commonly thought to have had Asperger’s).

Basically, Louis XV was in a position where he needed a whole lot of love.

And Jeanne du Barry was willing to provide it.

He apparently caught sight of her in the crowd and fell immediately in love.

Joan Haslip writes in Madame du Barry, the Wages of Beauty, that “King Louis was bewitched at first site of that lovely smiling face, so singularly pure and innocent, on which all her sordid experiences had left not a trace.”

I have no idea how that works. Suffice to say, he instructed his valet, Lebel, to bring her to him. Lebel wondered if she was to be an addition for Le Parc aux Cerfs (the deer park) where Louis housed a number of younger women (Madame Pompadour had, half jokingly, suggested he put together a house for his young women. He did so, and following her death, made great use of it). The weirdest depiction of it might be from this 1934 film called Madame du Barry:

Louis XV explained to Lebel that he was in love. Lebel attempted to explain Madame du Barry’s past to him – she was well known by that time. It made no difference to Louis. He immediately took her to Versailles and installed her there as maitress en titre.

The specific way in which he went about doing this – catching sight of a beautiful woman from a distance, deciding he was in love at first sight, installing her as his mistress immediately – seems to bear so many similarities to Louis’s relationship with Madame de Pompadour that I wonder whether or not Louis was trying to recreate her on some level. If that was his intention, he was not terribly successful.

I mean, this is a Cinderella story, except for how everything that comes afterwards is awful.

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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 B..ch 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.