Breaking with Convention: Mme de Pompadour’s Refashioning of the ‘Self’ Through the Bellevue Turqueries Public Deposited

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  • March 21, 2019
  • Paige-Lovingood, Amanda
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Art and Art History, Art History
  • In 1750 the sexual relationship between Mme Pompadour and Louis XV ended, resulting in the maîtresse-en-titre’s move out of Versailles and into the Château de Bellevue. Designed by Pompadour and with the financial support of the king, the château offered her a place away from court etiquette and criticism, a private home for her and Louis XV to relax. Within Bellevue, her bedroom (la chambre a la turq) was decorated with Turkish furnishings, textiles and Carle Van Loo’s three-portrait harem series. Specifically, my thesis will explore Pompadour’s chambre a la turque and Van Loo’s A Sultana Taking Coffee, the only self-portrait of Mme de Pompadour in the series, to exhibit her adoption and depiction of the French fashion trend of turquerie. Here, I suggest Pompadour’s adoption of harem masquerade was a political campaign aimed at reclaiming and magnifying her social and political dislocation from Louis XV’s court, as well as an alternative appraoch to the French definition of ‘woman,’ whereby she represented herself as an elite and desired ‘other’: the Ottoman woman. What happens to Pompadour’s position as mistress and her status as woman when she no longer maintains her sexual responsibilities and her role dictates that she pleasure the king? Expanding on Perrin Stein’s notion of political advancement through self-representation, my analysis presents a new interpretation of A Sultana Taking Coffee by suggesting that the image depicts the mistress re-feminizing her body through an exotic metaphor. Through an examination of the cross-cultural relationship between her feminine identity and turquerie, I demonstrate how Pompadour performed, constructed, and presented her status as an empowered ‘other’ type of French woman through her exotic costume and setting.
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  • In Copyright
  • Levine, Cary
  • Hyde, Melissa
  • Bowles, John
  • Master of Arts
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Graduate School
Graduation year
  • 2017

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