GREUZE, Jean-Baptiste
(b. 1725, Tournus, d. 1805, Paris)

Portrait of the Comtesse du Barry

c. 1771
Oil on canvas, 60 x 48 cm
Private collection

Born to humble beginnings as the daughter of a seamstress, the Comtesse du Barry (1746-1793), née Marie Jeanne Bécu, rose to become one of the most famous figures in the court of Louis XV. Her influence was born out of her legendary powers of seduction, which she used to gain the title of Maîtresse-en-titre (chief mistress of the King of France), the last to fill the position in the court of Louis XV.

Madame du Barry's support for the arts was also legendary, and she came to amass one of the great collections in France in the 18th century. She had her portrait painted by some of the leading artists of the day, including Louise Élisabeth Vigée-Lebrun, François-Hubert Drouais, and Jean-Baptiste Greuze.