Pompadour, Jeanne Antoinette Poisson Le Normant d'Étioles, marquise de (pŏmˈpədôr, Fr. zhän äNtwänĕtˈ pwäsôNˈ lə nôrmäNˈ dātyôlˈ märkēzˈ də pôNpädōrˈ) [key], 1721–64, mistress of King Louis XV of France. She was the king's mistress for about five years after 1745 and remained his confidante until her death. Of middle-class origin, she owed her success mainly to her intelligence and capabilities. She urged the appointment of the duc de Choiseul and other ministers and encouraged the French alliance with Austria, which involved France in the Seven Years War. The extent of her influence over state policy has, however, been exaggerated. She was a tastemaker in matters of art and culture, favoring Voltaire and other writers of the Encyclopédie, employing many artists to decorate her residences, and encouraging the manufacture of Sèvres ware and other luxury goods.
See biographies by J. Levron (tr. 1963), N. Mitford (2d ed. 1968), C. Pevitt Algrant (2002), and E. Lever (tr. 2002); C. Jones, Madame de Pompadour: Images of a Mistress (2002); study by M. Crosland (2000).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.