Feb 20, 2013 MADAME DE POMPADOUR - THE ULTIMATE RENAISSANCE REBEL "NEVER FEAR BEING VULGAR, JUST BORING" Diana Vreeland (1903-1989) Indeed Madame de Pompadour, the inspiration behind the Renaissance Rebel collection, was perceived by many as just that. Queen Marie Leszczyńska’s children referred to her as "motherwhore", Maurepas a minister at court took to writing vulgar poems about her and entertaining the populace with public recitations, and Frederick the Great of Prussia completely failed to acknowledge her by claiming “I do not know her” when the famous French philosopher Voltaire tried to bring about a meeting. Such was the almighty influence of Madame de Pompadour, she swiftly had Maurepas removed from office and exiled for twenty years. Her close relationship to the king meant that she was able to make or break ministerial careers, resulting in Voltaire claiming in his Memoires that Marquise de Pompadour ‘was in fact the Prime Minister of State.’ Her influence extended to all aspects of royal policy from court patronage, to domestic and international affairs, to being the unofficial minister for culture. Unsurprisingly, the arrangement between the king and his mistress proved unpopular at court. Madame de Pompadour is described by one distinguished French historian Christian Michel as ‘the bad genius of King Louis XV’. But despite her precarious social position, her biggest achievement was making the transition from being the illegitimate daughter of a fishmonger’s wife into high society and her role as an ambassador for the arts. She held banquets promoting painting, tapestry, textiles, upholstery and pottery and even her embroidery sessions doubled as power-broking meetings! Madame de Pompadour painted by Francois Boucher. As a keen interior decorator, she acquired lavish curiosities and furnishings and created an exquisite and unified rococo style rarely equaled since. She was also an amateur print maker receiving instruction from Boucher and Cochin. She helped spearhead an age of unrivalled cultural opulence prior to the French Revolution and used art to remodel her own image from courtesan to a cultured middle-aged woman. As the first classical ‘It Girl’, patron of the arts and unexpected political heavyweight, Madame de Pompadour really is the ultimate Renaissance Rebel! Madame de Pompadour painted by Francois Boucher.