Biography - Madame de Pompadour

Biography Madame de Pompadour


Born in Paris July 29, 1721, Jeanne-Antoinette Etiolles, entered the Ursuline convent to study. She danced, did drama, sang, studied literature and arts for several years and then married Charles Guillaume Le Normant d'Etiolles, son of the Central Bank treasurer and nephew of the farmer-general. She gave birth to a son who died after birth. Then to the small Alexandrine in 1744, who died at the age of nine.

Her beauty and intelligence made her the hostess of the most cultivated and sophisticated salons in Paris. She also gave private performances in her small theatre in the Etiolles Castle, near Sénart, where Louis XV used to hunt often and where he eventually noticed her.

They met for the first time at a masked ball at the Dauphin’s wedding. Jeanne-Antoinette was invited by the King, who charmed her and gave her a Marquise title. A decision of Parliament forced her husband Charles Guillaume Le Normant d'Etiolles to separate from her body and possessions and was appointed farmer-general by Louis XV. Jeanne Antoinette was officially presented to the Court of Versailles on the 14th of September, 1745, during celebrations commemorating the return of the King's campaign.

The Marquise appeared as a true woman of taste and supports artists and intellectuals of her time. Admirer of Rousseau, she plays the “The Village Soothsayer” by Voltaire, and is also very interested in painting, even placing commissions to Boucher, Gabriel or La Tour. It was her who facilitated the first two volumes of the Encyclopedia of Diderot and D'Alembert publication. The Marquise de Pompadour also bought the Hotel d'Evreux, known today as Elysée Palace, the French presidents’ residence.


During the winter of 1764, she was diagnosed with pneumonia and her condition was worsening. Although she wasn’t the King’s favourite, she remained his greatest friend who sat at her bedside as much as he could. She bequeathed her entire fortune to her brother Abel, Marquis de Marigny, and died on April the 15th of 1764.

The funeral took place at the Notre-Dame church, which’s interior was completely draped in black. Following her will, Madame de Pompadour was buried at the convent with her mother and daughter. During the whole funeral procession, Louis XV stood on his balcony despite the wind and rain and concluded: "This is the least I can do. Think; a friend of twenty years! ".

Return to Madame de Pompadour

Sign up for the Eurochannel Newsletter!

Don't miss our latest line-up, exclusive sweepstakes and events!