Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Immortal Companion: Madame de Pompadour
Although I was about to kill my dog today when I found my new shoes out of their box (and bag!) and on the rug; box destroyed, shoes unharmed (thank the fashion gods!)...I will still proceed with my planned entries on man's best friend, even if mine is in the doghouse right now.
Originally, I had planned to go on about an English bloke and his favourite dog but then this whole event got me thinking, "how many times did this happen to Marie Antoinette and Madame de Pompadour?" Just picturing those fabulous heels in pieces can make a fashion-conscious art historian tear up. These two notorious Rococo ladies were both very fond of their pooches. However, Pompadour was usually portrayed with hers.
Madame de Pompadour, or Jean-Antoinette, was depicted with her beloved pooches in most of her portraits. Of course, the dog is a symbol of loyalty so putting them in her portrait could have also served a dual purpose of displaying her loyalty to the king (and boy was she loyal!) and immortalizing her pet. Her two most well known ones were named Mimi and Inés. It was even rumoured that she would deck her dogs in golden collars that were nicer than some of the courtiers' own jewels.
I am pretty sure that in this particular painting by Boucher, Jean-Antoinette is depicted with her own dog, although I wish I knew which one, Mimi or Inés. The fuzzy one in question chaperones his mistress on the garden bench she placed him on while she poses. Notice the collar. He is a papillon, a breed that was portrayed more than once by master artists and loved not only by Jean-Antoinette but also Marie-Antoinette. Although Spanish in origin, the papillions acquired their French name, meaning butterfly, due to their foxy ears which look like butterfly wings. Unlike other portraits of Jean which exert her education, good breeding, and how hot she is; this portrayal shows the marquise in a rococo-girl wonderland. She is enjoying being out in her in garden with her papillon wearing a FABULOUS gown. She has nothing to prove in this picture except perhaps her great wardrobe, her Enlightenment, and how good she and her loyal companion look together.