Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Pets of the Mistresses

A royal mistress was often the centre of the court's attention and nothing escaped the many watching eyes. This was also the case when it came to the pets of the royal favourite. This is a short post to take a look at what kind of pets preferred by some of the mistresses of Louis XIV and Louis XV.

See if you can point out Inés
Madame de Pompadour was very fond of animals - something she shared with her royal lover. She had a little dog that went with her where ever she went. Madame de Pompadour would even be portrayed with a dog or two of hers somewhere in the scene. Her most famous dogs were the two spaniels named Mimi and Inés - Inés is actually on the portrait to the left, sitting on the bench. There were rumours that the royal favourite let her dogs wear collars more precious than many of the courtiers!

It was a rather different type of animal that attracted Madame du Barry when she took over after Madame de Pompadour. This last favourite of Louis XV had always been fond of parrots! Her parrot's exquisite cage adorned with porcelain flowers is a testimony to how dear she held her feathered friend. Apparently, Madame du Barry had taught her parrot not only to recognize her but to loudly exclaim "there goes the lovely lady!" whenever she appeared. According to Joan Haslip in "Madame du Barry: the Wages of Beauty" the parrot had beautiful black feathers. After the death of Louis XV, Madame du Barry moved to her country residence of Louveciennes and took her parrot with her.

Madame de Maintenon brought a large Pyrenean Mountain dog with her back to Paris in 1675. It was the first time the French court had seen this dog breed before and the Sun King immediately liked it - he even gave it the flattering name of "royal dog".

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