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.