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Madame de Pompadour: Painted Pink

This book cover features a painted portrait of an extravagantly dressed woman seated at a table, applying pink powder blush to her cheeks.

$ 25.00

A fresh take on a beloved masterpiece of portraiture, focusing on the complex significance of the color pink in 18th-century France

Edited by A. Cassandra Albinson

Publication date: July 26, 2022

ISBN: 9780300263817
88 pages, 7 × 8.5 in.
44 color images
Published by Harvard Art Museums
Distributed by Yale University Press

Winner, 2023 Third Place (Books), New England Museum Association

Watch a trailer for this book on YouTube!

François Boucher’s 1750 half-length portrait of Madame de Pompadour—influential court figure and mistress to King Louis XV—has been the subject of much art historical attention, particularly with regard to gender and representation. Building on that foundation, this volume turns toward an underappreciated aspect of the portrait: the use and significance of the color pink. Four scholarly essays, including one by noted Boucher expert Mark Ledbury, establish a framework that connects Pompadour’s fondness and promotion of the color, Boucher’s artistic association with the color, and developments in the material basis of the color, including its application in other media such as porcelain. This engaging close look offers new ways to understand the portrait, revealing its links to motherhood and sentiment, race and the transatlantic slave trade, and the crosscurrents of natural history and scientific discovery.

A. Cassandra Albinson is the Margaret S. Winthrop Curator of European Art and Head of the Division of European and American Art at the Harvard Art Museums.

With contributions by A. Cassandra Albinson; Mark Ledbury, Power Professor of Art History and Visual Culture and director of the Power Institute at the University of Sydney; Gabriella Szalay, Ph.D. candidate, Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, and 2018–20 Renke B. and Pamela M. Thye Curatorial Fellow in the Busch-Reisinger Museum, Harvard Art Museums; and Oliver Wunsch, assistant professor of art history at Boston College and 2018–19 Maher Curatorial Fellow of American Art at the Harvard Art Museums.

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