Madame du Barry is seen in an oil painting by French rococo and neo-classical artist Madame Le Brun. Image courtesy of National Gallery of Art/Wikimedia
Oct. 20 (UPI) -- The restored chambers of Madame du Barry, the last official mistress of France's King Louis XV, have opened to the public for the first time.
The Palace of Versailles is celebrating the 300th anniversary of Louis XV's coronation with an exhibition of more than 400 works that opened Tuesday and is running through Feb. 19.
"For this exhibition, the apartment of Madame de Pompadour, as well as that of Madame du Barry, freshly restored after 18 months of work, will be opened to the public for guided tours, offering a unique experience at the heart of Louis XV's private Versailles," museum officials said in a statement.
Madame du Barry, born Jeanne Bécu in 1743 in Vaucouleurs, was the last mistress of King Louis XV, imprisoned during the Reign of Terror and later executed by guillotine during the French Revolution in 1793. Her life is the subject of an upcoming Netflix production starring Johnny Depp as King Louis XV.
The countess moved to Versailles in 1768 after the death of Madame de Pompadour, King Louis XV's chief mistress who is known as a titan in art history for her success as a patron of rococo art.
Madame du Barry, herself a great lover of the arts, was a patron to various painters and craftsmen and helped to usher in the neo-classical art style at Versailles where she lived from 1768 to 1774. She was banished from Versailles by King Louis XVI after the death of Louis XV, his grandfather.
"Like all royal mistresses, Madame du Barry lived comfortably. After moving in on the second floor of the King's chambers she began to enjoy the perks of her position, receiving jewelry and estates from the king, including the Louveciennes Estate where she stayed regularly," according to Versailles officials.
"Fascinated by craftsmanship and painting, she commissioned numerous pieces from the joiner Delanois, the cabinet-maker Leleu and the painters Fragonard and Vien. She was a personal friend of Voltaire, whom she visited regularly until his death in 1778."
Ateliers Gohard, a restoration specialist, has spent 18 months restoring her chambers at a cost of $4.9 million, according to The Art Newspaper.
Gohard began the restoration by removing layers of paint to reveal the original colors underneath, then prepared matching paints made to 18th-century specifications.
Ornamental gold leaf missing from the chambers has been replaced and it has been furnished with period furniture from the palace's storerooms.