Date of Award

8-10-2021

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

History

First Advisor

Dr. Denise Davidson

Second Advisor

Dr. Joe Perry

Abstract

This thesis examines the many images of Madame du Barry, the last maîtresse-en-titre of King Louis XV of France. Through the interrogation of a variety of sources, including artwork, apocryphal memoirs, and her apartments within Versailles, I examine the ways in which Madame du Barry curated her own image as well as how she was rendered by others. By revealing the many masks worn by du Barry, this thesis explores the impact of du Barry’s life and public persona while simultaneously exploring the concepts of celebrity, performance, and the Court as theater. This thesis argues that the Court served as a venue for social and political performance and that close examination of the maîtresse-en-titre illuminates the rise of celebrity and the importance of political performance in the decades leading up to the French Revolution.

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