Pauline-Felicité (1712-1741) known as Mademoiselle de Nesle before her marriage and the Comtesse de Vintimille after, looks absolutely lovely in this portrait on the right. It was painted by Nattier after her death in September 1741, and she's beautiful; not at all like the "green monkey" she was sometimes called.
This portrait - you'll recognize it as the inspiration for the beautiful Sisters cover - was apparently painted post-mortem, so that the King could remember her as he wished.
Perhaps it exaggerated her beauty, but of course contemporary reports of her ugliness were also probably exaggerated by her enemies.
Here's another portrait that is often tagged with Pauline's name, and perhaps plays more into our perception of her beauty (or lack thereof).
Unfortunately, though, this is a portrait of the Comtesse du Brac and it hangs in the Detroit Institute of the Arts (Google tells me it's only 4 hrs' drive to Detroit from Toronto.... I sense a roadtrip coming on... it's rare to find Nattier originals in North America).
I don't know much about the Comtesse du Brac, but she was definitely a contemporary of the sisters. Here she is in 1741, painted as Aurora.
Below left is another portrait, supposedly of Pauline. It's very obviously a "shout out" from a larger picture, so where is that larger portrait? Now check out the portrait, below right: this is supposedly the Marquise de Saint Maur, dressed in fashionable Turkish "sultane" style, by Jacques Joseph Andre Aved. Look how similar they are, especially the turban head dress and the fur trim. Now I'm no art historian - sometimes I wish I were! - but it's very obvious painters repeated poses and clothes (and probably pre-painted the entire portrait before filling in facial features), so perhaps originally there was a full length portrait of Pauline in the same style. Or is the Marquise de Saint Maur mislabeled? Or, perhaps more likely, the face on the bottom left is not Pauline at all.
I loved writing Pauline! She has such a devil-may-care attitude, and literally doesn't give a shit. I've found readers react really well to her; I wonder if it's because we all secretly wish we had her blithe confidence?
Pauline is one of two of the sisters (Hortense being the other one) who has descendants to this day. Her son, the little boy known as "demi Louis" for his resemblance to Louis XV, married and had descendants. I haven't tracked down any current day descendants, but there must be people in France who know they count among their ancestors the Comte de Luc, and therefore Pauline and the King.
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