Madame de Pompadour as Friendship by Jean-Baptiste Pigalle

Paris, Musée du Louvre, Department of Sculptures

Madame de Pompadour as Friendship by Jean-Baptiste Pigalle

Version française   

Jean-Baptiste Pigalle

(Paris, 1714 - Paris, 1785)

Madame de Pompadour (1721-1764) as Friendship

H. : 1,66 m. ; W. : 0,62 m. ; D. : 0,55 m.

Signed : PIGALLE FECIT 1753

Paris, musée du Louvre, Department of Sculptures, inv. RF3026
Former collection Alphonse de Rothschild, donated by Guy de Rothschild, 1974.

This sculpture reproduces the features of Jeanne-Antoinette Poisson, Marquise de Pompadour (1727-1764). It was designed for the rose and jasmine grove within the Château de Bellevue gardens in Meudon, which was dedicated to love. It was originally part of a set with a statue depicting Louis XV by the same artist.

Madame de Pompadour – who was the official mistress to the king from 1745 until 1752 – ordered this statue of an allegorical depiction of friendship in 1750 as she saw her relationship with the king transform into a profound friendship. Madame de Pompadour became overtime a true friend and advisor to King Louis XV, who appreciated her intelligence. Pigalle offers a depiction that conforms with traditional iconography – the allegory is dressed with a simple white dress, with uncovered bust and arms. Flowers from all seasons can be found at her feet, alluding that friendship can flourish at any stage in life. Madame de Pompadour was fond of this iconography and even asked Etienne-Maurice Falconet in 1755 for another interpretation of herself as friendship, to be made in biscuit by the Sèvres Manufacture after a drawing by François Boucher. The Friendship also echoes another sculpture at the Musée du Louvre Love embracing Friendship (1758) designed by Pigalle for the Chateau de Bellevue as well. It depicts an allegory of love, disarmed tenderly embracing Friendship.

Jean-Baptiste PigalleLove embracing Friendship, Paris, Musée du Louvre, Department of Sculptures.

Purchased by Alphonse de Rothschild in 1904, Madame de Pompadour as Friendship was placed in the specially designed niche in the Grand Dining Room of the mansion on rue Saint-Florentin.

In 2004, a copie of this sculpture was replaced in the same location thanks to an American donor and an agreement between the American Embassy in Paris, the Louvre museum as well as the Chateau de Versailles.  

Michel Bourbon after Jean-Baptiste Pigalle, Madame de Pompadour (1721-1764) as Friendship2004, Paris, Ambassade des États-Unis, Hôtel Saint Florentin.

Laura de Fuccia, Project manager, Institut national d’histoire de l’art, 2019

Further reading


–  Bascou, Marc, « Les héritiers du baron Édouard de Rothschild », dans P. Prevost-Marcilhacy (dir.), Les Rothschild, une dynastie de mécènes en France, 3 vol., Paris, éditions du musée du Louvre/Bibliothèque nationale de France/éditions d'art Somogy, 2016, III, p. 316.

–  Gaborit, Jean-René (dir.), Sculpture française. II. Renaissance et Temps modernes, Paris, RMN, 1998.

–  Rocheblave, Samuel, « Jean-Baptiste Pigalle », , La Revue de l'art ancien et moderne , 1905, p. 422-428.

–  Retour à l’hôtel Talleyrand, Paris, ambassade des États-Unis, Services américains d’information
et de relations culturelles, 1984, p. 32.

Online resources

See the themed research dedicated to Alphonse de Rothschild’s collection at the Hôtel de Talleyrand

See the artwork’s record on the musée du Louvre website: