On September 5th, 1725, the Princess of Poland Marie Leczinska (1703-1768) became Queen of France (1725-1768) when she married King Louis XV. The new Queen was said to be ugly, infertile, and dim-witted. Nonetheless, the beginning of the marriage was to be a happy one and she gave birth to 10 children in 8 years.
Tired of these numerous pregnancies, Marie Leczinska closed her door to the King and the chain of royal Mistresses began: the Mailly's, the Pompadour, and finally du Barry. The King's new conquests were intriguing and nothing like the Queen who has not been raised at the Versailles Court. Despite his infidelities she remained faithfully devoted to him. She was a well-educated woman, sensible to art and music. The people nicknamed her "la bonne reine" (the good queen), because of her philanthropy, her goodness and her infinite generosity towards the destitute.
Representing the Monarchy :
During the eighteenth century, before the invention of photography, royal portraits were primarily used to make the monarchs' faces commonly known. Artisans made copies of them for private individuals under various forms, such as snuffbox lids, paintings, sculptures on wooden panels…
During the nineteenth century, the issue of the Restauration, or restoration of the monarchy, along with the taste for Historicism, led to a larger production of objects featuring portraits of the monarchs.
The Queen of France was represented several times in majestic paintings by famous artists of the time, for example:
- Portrait of Marie Leczinska by Louis Tocqué (1696-1772), 1740, Louvre Museum.
- Portrait of Marie Leczinska, Queen of France by Jean Baptiste Van Loo (1684-1745), ca. 1725, Musée des Châteaux de Versailles et Trianon.