Louis XV & Madame de Pompadour at the Bal des If

Louis XV & Madame de Pompadour at the Bal des If

“The ball for the Dauphin’s marriage was perhaps the most splendid ever known in all the history of Versailles,” Nancy Mitford writes in her 1954 biography, “Madame Pompadour.” The celebrated Yew Tree Ball, a masked ball held in the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles on the night of 25-26 February 1745, was attended by 15,000 people, with Louis XV and seven of his courtiers dressed as topiary yew trees.

‘Le bal des if’ was a momentous occasion for the young Jeanne Poisson; on that night, she would meet the king; besotted with the beautiful young bourgeoise, he would make her his mistress as well as Marquise de Pompadour — the first woman ever plucked from the middle class to be maîtresse-en-titre to a French king; “in the annals of the kings of France such a thing was unknown, and it would create an impossible situation,” writes Mitford in her gossipy, wonderfully fun biography of the low-born woman who would become the arbiter of taste at the court of Louis XV…


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