Friday, 12 April 2013

Marie-Louise O'Murphy

Marie-Louise O'Murphy was the daughter of an Irish officer who no longer served in the Irish army but had taken to shoemaking in Rouen instead. She was born on October 21 1737 and when her father died in 1753, her mother Marguerite Igny brought her family to Paris.

Life in Paris was hard on the O'Murphy-family and they took up some less esteemed careers. Marie-Louise's mother traded in second-hand clothing and her sister became an actress - Marie-Louise herself danced a bit. The infamous Casanova visited the household in which Marie-Louise lived and found her to be very beautiful despite his remark that he found her to be "a pretty, ragged, dirty little creature". A painting was painted of the then thirteen-year old Marie-Louise lying naked on a couch. One way or another the painting made its way to Louis XV who immediately took a fancy to the beautiful, young girl. In this way Marie-Louise found herself to be one of the King's younger mistresses - she was one of the many young girls provided by Madame de Pompadour for Louis XV since their relationship was no longer sexual.
This is the famous portrait that caught the eye of
Louis XV.

Marie-Louise had a miscarriage in 1753. The miscarriage had been very difficult and had almost cost her her own life. As a result this merely brought Louis XV closer to her - he loved the idea that she had almost died "in service" as a prove of her affection for him. However, she later gave birth to Agathe Louise de Saint-Antoine who was indisputably the King's illegitimate daughter. Marie-Louise continued to fulfil her role as the King's mistress for two years but then made a mistake that would be her downfall: she tried to replace the extremely influential Madame de Pompadour.

Madame de Pompadour had already been the maîtresse-en-titre of Louis for many years and had become irreplaceable to him. She quickly arranged for Marie-Louise to be married of to Jacques Pelet de Beaufranchet which happened in 1755. Two children came out of this marriage - a girl who died in infancy and a boy who would become the Comte de Beaufranchet and serve as a General for the French republic. Sadly, Marie-Louise's husband was killed in battle shortly before the birth of their second child.
Marie-Louise remarried two years later, this time to François Nicolas Le Normant who was the Comte de Flaghac and this union produced a daughter.

But Marie-Louise soon found herself to be a widow once again when François died in 1759. This time Marie-Louise was a widow for twelve years before she married again in 1795 - at that point the monarchy had fallen and her once-lover was long-dead. But this third marriage to Louis-Philippe Dumont was a poor match. After three years of marriage the couple divorced and Marie-Louise never married again.

During the Reign of Terror, Marie-Louise was imprisoned when it became known that she had been a mistress of a former King - this had cost Madame du Barry her life. But she was released and lived till 1814 when she died at the age of 77.

No comments:

Post a comment