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Tue 10 Jun 2014, 10:00am–11:30am

Where: Art Gallery of New South Wales, Art Gallery Road, Sydney CBD, New South Wales

Restrictions: All Ages

Ticket Information:

  • Member/non-member: $25.00
  • student: $15.00
  • Additional fees may apply


Listed by: natasha43

In this lecture, Professor Melissa Hyde considers the role that cosmetics played in the court politics and social identities of women at the court of Versailles. Focusing largely on portraits of the most famous mistresses of Louis XV – Madame de Pompadour and Madame du Barry – Hyde will discuss ‘making up’ the face as a symbolic practice. The lecture also considers the historical irony and significance of Madame Du Barry’s eventual refusal of rouge.

For the artist, François-Hubert Drouais and Elisabeth Vigée-Lebrun, who portrayed Pompadour, Du Barry and Marie-Antoinette after them, the problem of depicting an unpainted, natural face through inherently artificial painterly means presented something of a paradox.

The lecture also looks at how artists grappled with that paradox and will demonstrate how the painterly performance of the natural was a perfect vehicle for portraying Du Barry’s own performance as a natural woman.

This special lecture is made possible with the assistance of Sydney Intellectual History Network.

Image: François Boucher A young lady holding a pug dog (presumed portrait of Madame Boucher) mid 1740s. AGNSW collection – gift of James Fairfax AO 1992.