I’m tired… I’m so tired. I thought I just needed a night’s sleep, but it’s more than that.
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Jeanne-Antoinette Poisson, better known as Madame de Pompadour, was born sometime at the end of December in 172. She was well-educated, first in an Ursuline convent, then with excellent private tutors in voice and elocution from the Parisian opera and theatre. She was later educated at the Club de l’Entresol, an exclusively male political and economic think-tank.
Jeanne-Antoinette entered the glittering life of the court at the Clipped Yew Tree Ball in 1745. She dressed as a shepherdess, and was determined to meet the magnetic King Louis XV, adorned as the tree. When their paths crossed, their fates were sealed—her carriage was reportedly seen outside of his apartment the next morning.
Louis XV was fond of his Polish queen (with whom he would have 10 children); he had been through several mistresses by this time, but “Madame de Pompadour"—a title that Jeanne-Antoinette was soon given, along with an estate—became his chief mistress within a year. Her “office” came with castle apartments beneath the king’s own, as well as an annual income.
A talented seductress, actress and singer, Madame de Pompadour dazzled Louis XV with lively theater productions that she organized and performed in. She also adored the king, so even after their sexual liaison had run its course, she continued to be his loyal companion, and was accorded unprecedented political influence.
Madame de Pompadour eventually provided substitutes for herself in the boudoir while engaging Louis XV’s passions in other areas; she had her brother appointed director of buildings and, together, the trio planned and built chateaux, pavilions and palaces, including the Petit Trianon in Versailles. Each construction included extravagant detail and decoration by France’s premier artists, such as painter Francois Boucher. Madame de Pompadour also kick-started the Sèvres porcelain factory, and employed the Rococo style copiously in art and decor; a deep pink popular in this décor became known as “Pompadour Pink.”
Additionally, Madame de Pompadour became a patron to men of science and letters, encouraging the king to hire Voltaire as the court historiographer, and championing the first French encyclopedia. Her personal library held more than 3,500 volumes.
Eventually, Madame de Pompadour was involved in everything from designing the Place de la Concorde in Paris, to court affairs and foreign policy. Careers rose and fell with her favor and she maintained her lofty position, despite many enemies at court, until her death in 1764.
Introverts are collectors of thoughts, and solitude is where the collection is curated and rearranged to make sense of the present and future.