Madame de Pompadour

Madame de Pompadour (1721-1764)

Madame de Pompadour DSC_1383

Year 1745… The Palace of Versailles… A royal ball… A stunning woman in a mask was introduced to the king of France Louis XV. Likely, she would become just one of the king’s numerous mistresses!?

No, she would not. Her incredible personality was far beyond that of a typical mistresses – “She was pretty, intelligent, cold and ambitious”.

She was a commoner, however the French court and nobility could do nothing but accept her.

She was a commoner, however spent her life in the radiance and luxury of the royal palaces.

She was a commoner, however she became a symbol of French aristocracy and Paris taste in fashion, architecture and interior design.

She was never appointed a minister, however she created and used the opportunity to influence practically all spheres of government – economy, finances, internal and foreign affairs, being behind the scene for nineteen years (1745-1764).

Madam de Pompadour, Louis XV

“Nothing is absolutely proven of Madame de Pompadour’s origin” – all “facts” about her family and her background are only assumptions.


Created: September, 2008

Height: 29 cm

Material: artificial clay (air-hardening sculpting material), wire, fabric

Costume: four layers of clothing

© Text and visuals created by IRINA GORELKINA


Louis XV

Louis XV (1710 – 1774) – King of France and Navarre

Louis XVLouis XV

Louis XV or “Louis the Well Beloved” was a great-grandson of Louis XIV known as The Sun King. The House of Bourbon to which they both belonged had ruled France for two hundred and three years.

Louis succeeded the throne when he was five years old.

He was raised according to the French royal tradition. Being very curious, he adored reading and had received an excellent education.

“He was a pretty child, who became a striking figure of man. … His 85 kilos of well-toned muscle, little of each had turned to fat”. He always was a perfect rider and hunter and “kept his physique by these sporting activities and the reasonable diet”.

When Louis was a child, France was ruled by the Regent Philippe II, Duke of Orleans.

On February 15, 1723 the Parliament of Paris declared the maturity of the young King. So the era of Louis XV has begun.

In 1726 Louis dismissed the unpopular minister Duke of Bourbon and replaced him by Cardinal Fleury.

The wisdom of Fleury balanced Louis’ lacking experience and made the period from 1726 to 1743 the most successful in all fifty nine years of Louis’ reign.

In January 1743 (after Fleury’s death) Louis made a dramatic decision – to rule without the first minister.

The triumphant victories of France in 1745 and 1747, especially against the British, became a very serious reason and an inspirational factor for Louis to concentrate his political focus on the affairs of other European nations and their problems. Such one-sided position where the internal issues of the kingdom were ignored was not understood neither by Louis’ generals and his court nor by his own people. The unpopularity of a monarch started to grow. Moreover it was strengthened by the degrading moral image of the king. The endless list of his mistresses disturbed not only the church and ordinary people, but even the nobles.

The name of Louis XV always was and always will be associated with the name of Madame de Pompadour. Why did that “porcelain Marquise” possess such a great power over the king? It had to be something more than just a personal attachment or an extraordinary female charm. Behind this remarkable woman there had to be something or someone. Of course, Pompadour was a protegee of the Paris family of financiers ( the richest bourgeois). This powerful financial group desperately needed royal patronage to establish itself as the new French elite.

Louis XV, Madame de Pompadore

Madame de Pompadour played her role of the mediator perfectly well. She successfully used her brilliant knowledge of the King’s character, habits and weaknesses.

Many things happened during his reign from victories and triumphs, to failures and defeats, attempts at reform and even an assassination attempt. By the end of 1756 “… he was depressed, fed up of life, suffered from growing personal unpopularity.” “He always recognized his own faults, but was unable to do anything about them.” He did not want to make any changes neither to his personality nor to his surroundings Keeping things easy, for himself of course, not for France.

Enormous economic problems; unreasonably high taxes; growing inequality and antagonism between different social classes; the loss of the territories in North America (Louisiana had been ceded to Spain and New France was no more) brought France – the great European state and monarchy to the doorstep of revolution . Those were the bitter fruits of Louis XV reign.



Created: September, 2008

Height: 30 cm

Material: artificial clay (air-hardening sculpting material), wire, fabric

Costume: two layers of clothing

© Text and visuals created by IRINA GORELKINA

George II

George II (1683-1760) – King of Great Britain and Ireland

George II George II George II

In 1701 the Parliament of England passed the Act of Settlement, “which decreed, … that the crown was to pass to Sophia, electress of Hanover and granddaughter of James I [first Stuart King of England (1603-1625)] and “to the heirs of her body being Protestants”. The act was thus responsible for the accession of Sophia`s son George I in 1714 – notwithstanding the claims of 57 persons closer by the rules of inheritance than Sophia and George.” (Encyclopedia Britannica)

George II was the only son of George I (reigned 1714-1727), he was the second monarch of the House of Hanover and the last British monarch who was not born in Britain. He could not and was not confident in the role of Great Britain King, first of all because he spoke English with strong guttural accent. But he was lucky with his ministers and relied on them heavily. He loved military passionately and became the last British monarch who lead the troops in the battle of war. His late reign can not be characterized as the active participating in politics; but it was the period when British power in Europe and its influence overseas grew very rapidly (India, North America).


Created: April, 2009

Height: 24 cm

Material: artificial clay (air-hardening sculpting material), wire, fabric

Costume: three layers of clothing

© Text and visuals created by IRINA GORELKINA

Elizabeth I

Elizabeth I (1533-1603) – Queen of England, the last in Tudors dynasty.

Elizabeth I Elizabeth I Elizabeth I Elizabeth I

Her historical names – “The Virgin Queen”, “Gloriana”, “Good Queen Bess”.

Her motto – “Semper Eadem”, which means “Always the Same”.

She was the unwanted daughter of her father (King Henry VIII) and she did not have the chance to know her mother (Anne Boleyn), who was beheaded when Elizabeth was a baby. But she always remembered very well the destiny of all her farther`s wives.

In 1564 in one of her letters Elizabeth wrote: “I would rather be a beggar and single than a queen and married”.

The uneasy childhood she had formed her absolutely fantastic vision of herself, vision which quite soon developed to the incredible wisdom. Elizabeth is the example of the monarch who was able to make her personality work for her as a person and a queen; for the throne and for the state. She always wanted to be herself, to be independent. So she invented a brilliant formula which provided the ideal image of a virgin queen. This image suited practically for all different sides; first of all for her (it made her free), for the church (did not matter catholic or protestant), for the Parliament (it for a long time cared about the queen’s marriage and she for a long time just played a beautiful role of an unmarried woman searching for a good match), and for the people and their faith.

As a result, she did not need to struggle with herself like her father did. That is why she was successfully resolving very complicated religious problems; that is also why she won the duel with Fillip II – King of Spain. Hence, she was popular in her own kingdom and very respected abroad.

I created two different images – first is “Princess Elizabeth”, the second one – “Queen Elizabeth”.


1. “Princess Elizabeth”

Created: July, 2008

Height: 31 cm

Material: artificial clay (air-hardening sculpting material), wire, fabric

Costume: three layers of clothing

2. “Queen Elizabeth”

Created: August, 2008

Height: 31 cm.

Material: artificial clay (air-hardening sculpting material), wire, fabric

Costume: one layer of clothing

About image:

Elizabeth holds a sieve in her left hand (here she shown “as a Tuccia, a Vestal Virgin who proved her chastity by carrying a sieve full of water from Tiber River to Temple of Vesta without spilling a drop” (Wiki).

© Text and visuals created by IRINA GORELKINA

Anne Boleyn

Anne Boleyn (c.1501- 1536) – Queen of England, who could not produce a male heir for the King, but who bore a female heir to the throne of England- Elizabeth I.

Anne Boleyn Anne Boleyn

She was the second of King Henry VIII six wives and the first of two who were beheaded.

Everything was noble in this woman – her birth, her appearance, mind and manners. She was a daughter of an outstanding English diplomat. Being a girl (12 -15 yeas-old) she bewitched the rulers of Netherlands and France whilst living at their courts. In 1522 Anne was recalled to England where she became one of the most sophisticated and stylish women of the court. In 1533 after her marriage to Henry VIII she became the Queen of England. It seemed that such a talented, educated and intelligent woman could do everything that was required of a queen. But she could not. She could not bear a male heir for the king and that sealed her doom. In 1536 Anne was executed.


Created: October 2008

Height: 27 cm (without a hat)

Material: artificial clay (air-hardening sculpting material), wire, fabric

Costume: three layers of clothing

© Text and visuals created by IRINA GORELKINA


Francis I

Francis I (1494 – 1547) – King of France

Francis IFrancis I

Francis became a king when he was 20 year-old and reigned for 47 year until his death:

A patron of great artists, scientists , humanists and explorers of the Renaissance (Leonardo Da Vinci, Andrea del Sarto, Rafael Santi, Benvenuto Cellini, Robert Estienne, Giovanni da Verrazzano, Jacques Cartier)

A knightly king of elegant manners who preferred chivalrous romances, songs and exercises to classical studies;

A man, who possessed an amazing memory, an extraordinary mind, an unusual vision;

A ruler, who was too open and trusting to be a pragmatic and good politician;

A warrior and leader, who was wounded, defeated and imprisoned;

A father who accepted a political marriage for the freedom of his children.

He was “Le Grand roi Francois” (“The Great King Francis”) to his contemporaries as well as he is “Le Grand roi Francois” to our contemporaries today.


Created: July 2009

Height: 29 cm (without a hat)

Material: artificial clay (air-hardening sculpting material), wire, fabric

Costume: three layers of clothing

© Text and visuals created by IRINA GORELKINA


Henry VIII

2. Henry VIII (1491-1547) – King of England

Henry VIII Henry VIII

Henry VIII : six marriages, was the key figure in the separation of the Church of England from the Roman Catholic Church, in the Dissolution of the Monasteries and in establishing himself as the Supreme Head of the Church of England.

He was responsible for the beheading of his two wives and for the deaths of the great English humanists

Henry was given everything: a peaceful and happy childhood, unchallenged succession to the throne, good health, courage, charisma, energy, intelligence, terrific leaning abilities, a brilliant education, rare talent in poetry, music and dance.

Certain historians believe Henry VIII to be merely a victim of various court intrigues and political schemes against him. However, if we must look at him as “a victim” it would be more accurate to say that he was a victim of his own character i.e. his selfishness and a strong yet blind belief in his own infallibility.


Created: November 2008

Height: 29 cm (without a hat)

Material: artificial clay (air-hardening sculpting material), wire, fabric

Costume: three layers of clothing

© Text and visuals created by IRINA GORELKINA