Maurice quentin Of the tower called Quentin de La Tour, portrait painter and pastel artist, born in 1704, first painted the portrait of Voltaire in 1735 before gaining recognition. Following up with those of Rousseau, Louis XV, his wife and the Dauphin, he was admitted to the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture, as a “painter of pastel portraits” in 1746 and became an advisor in 1750. Specialized in the portraits, he makes them so alive, so smiling, so sensitive that we imagine having the characters in front of us.
In his hometown, he founded a drawing school in 1782 and even today, the Antoine Lécuyer Museum in Saint Quentin retains most of his work.
La Pompadour, by Delatour
One fine day in 1749, the former royal mistress of Louis XV, Madame de Pompadour asked Quentin de La Tour to paint her. The artist will use pastel pencils supplemented with a few touches of gouache, but five years are necessary until its completion, because it is regularly made "the ear": he refuses to go to paint in Versailles and pronounces these words “I'm not going to paint in town” or even it is a pretext for urgent repairs to be made on other canvases… Finally the face is prepared in Versailles and the portrait is painted in the workshops of Paris. Once completed, it was exhibited at the Salon in 1755 and then acquired by the Louvre in 1803.
The Marchioness is thirty-four years old. Having reached the stage of friend and adviser to the king, become grace itself, she is seated like a queen in her cabinet decorated with blue-green woodwork, underlined with gold, wearing a sumptuous "French" satin dress. , as we admire in the magnificent portrait in a room of the Louvre ...
The fashion for the French dress with separate baskets did not appear until 1750 and these volumes made it more comfortable and easy to move around. Do you know ladies that baskets are the origin of our handbags? Indeed, there is another advantage to these baskets: the ladies, under their lace petticoats of which we are discovering a small piece, could place all their feminine necessities.
The cuffs with removable lace and nicknamed “the engaging” make the marquise even more feminine and refined. The knots on the plastron as well as the little mules at the foot are in the new soft pink tone: the "Pompadour pink" and unlike this sumptuous dress, her hairstyle is simple, devoid of her hats of any size which are at the same time. fashion… because she is in her private.
Surrounded by all the elements of her intellectual life including a sphere, books, sheet music, the Spirit of Laws, the Encyclopedia, a viol, cartoons of drawings, Mme de Pompadour is the Protectress of All the Arts. Let us not forget that it was thanks to Elle that the manufacture of Sèvres took off again around 1765 and that she therefore inaugurated the "Pompadour style" in the decorative arts.
A woman of taste, cultivated and artist, feminine, elegant and gracious, who opens herself to the philosophical, political and moral development of Paris ... "The Woman" of the 18th century!
With this portrait, one meter seventy long by three meter thirty wide, Quentin de La Tour had just inaugurated a new technique and was able to prove that pastel can equal oil painting. But with this work, it is also the end of the fashion for official portraits ...
The Marquise de Pompadour, By delatour. Louvre Museum.