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Madame de Pompadour become one of the most powerful women in 18th-century France. The illegitimate daughter of a financier exiled for fraud, Madame de Pompadour was groomed from childhood to become a plaything for the aristocracy. Married to her guardian’s nephew at the age of 19 she became celebrated in the fashionable world of Parian society. Attractive, educated, and highly intelligent, she founded her own salon, at Étiolles, and was joined by many philosophes, among them Voltaire.
Presented to the Dauphin Louis de France at a royal masked ball at the Palace of Versailles she became the king’s mistress and was installed at Versailles in an apartment directly above his once the official separation between her and her husband was pronounced two months later. Now titled the Marquise de Pompadour she had little formal political influence in France, but she wielded considerable power and control behind the scenes, much to the condemnation of many royal courtiers who felt it a disgrace that the king would thus compromise himself with a commoner. Her importance was such that she was approached in 1755 by Wenzel Anton Graf Kaunitz, a prominent Austrian diplomat, asking her to intervene in the negotiations which led to the Treaty of Versailles. This was the beginning of the Diplomatic Revolution, which saw France allied to her former enemy Austria. Her influence over Louis increased markedly through the 1750s, to the point where he allowed her considerable leeway in the determination of policy over a whole range of issues, from military matters to foreign relations.
Madame de Pompadour was a woman of verve and intelligence. She planned buildings like the Place de la Concorde (then called Place de Louis XV), the military school and the Petit Trianon with her brother, the Marquis de Marigny. She patronized Jacques Guay, the gemstone engraver, who taught her to engrave in onyx, jasper and other precious stones. Moreover, she protected the Physiocrates school (its leader was Quesnay, her own doctor) which paved the way for Adam Smith’s theories. She also defended the Encyclopédie edited by Denis Diderot and Jean le Rond d’Alembert against those, among them the Archbishop of Paris Christophe de Beaumont who sought to have it suppressed.
Unlike previous mistresses to the King, Pompadour realised that showing respect to the Dauphin’s wife, Infanta Marie Teresa of Spain. This eased Louis’ guilt and allowed him to have a strong relationship with his children. Unlike the other women in the King’s life, the Marquise de Pompadour accompanied him while hunting, playing cards, and touring properties. Although they ended their sexual relationship after 1750, they remained very intimate friends and occasional lovers, and Louis XV was devoted to her until her death (aged 42) from tuberculosis in 1764 at the age of forty-two. Louis nursed her through her illness. (sources National Gallery & Wikipedia)
The reverse of this 10€ silver coin shows a portrait of Madame de Pompadour wearing ribbons around her neck, in accordance with the outfits in vogue at the time. In the background, a graphical design evokes the textile patterns of the XVIIIth century
The obverse depicts an image from the title page of L’Encyclopédie, along with the famous tomes name above it. A 28 volume work with 71,818 articles and 3,129 illustrations, this important work was protected by the Marquise de Pompadour from the church that wanted it suppressed. The date and denomination are also in attendance.
This stunning limited edition coin is presented in a classic Monnaie de Paris box with a uniquely numbered Certificate of Authenticity and outer shipper. A perfect gift for lovers of history.