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Jean-Marc Nattier (1685-1766)  Portrait of Maria Leszczyńska  Oil on canvas, 1748  Musée national du Château, Versailles
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Title: Maria Leszczyńska
Jean-Marc Nattier (1685-1766)
Portrait of Maria Leszczyńska
Oil on canvas, 1748
Musée national du Château, Versailles

Maria Leszczyńska, Queen Consort of France (Maria Karolina Zofia Felicja Leszczyńska; June 23, 1703 in Trzebnica June 24, 1768 in Versailles) was a queen consort of France. She was a daughter of King Stanisław Leszczyński of Poland (later Duke of Lorraine) and Katarzyna Opalińska. She married King Louis XV of France and was the grandmother of Louis XVI, Louis XVIII, and Charles X. In France, she was referred to as Marie Leczinska. She is the longest serving queen consort of France.
Maria Karolina Zofia Felicja Leszczyńska h. Wieniawa was the second daughter of Stanisław Leszczyński and his wife Katarzyna Opalińska. Maria's early life was troubled by her father's political misfortune. Ironically, King Stanisław's hopeless political career was eventually the reason that his daughter Maria became queen of France.

Born in Trzebnica in Lower Silesia, she was born in the year before her father was made King of Poland by Charles XII of Sweden who invaded the country that year. Very close to her father, Maria was tutored while in her father's exile in Wissembourg in Alsace near France. This place was a suggestion by the French de facto ruler Philippe II, Duke of Orléans, a nephew of Louis XIV and regent of France for the infant king Louis XV.

The family was supported by a pension the Duke of Orléans, and during their time in Wissembourg, the young Maria was asked for her hand in marriage by Louis Henri, Duke of Bourbon who was a grandson of Louis XIV and the prime minister of France 1723. The same year, the young king Louis XV (by then he had reached his majority) fell ill and the prime minister suggested a marriage between the young princess and the even younger king.
Cardinal Fleury - the replacement of the Duke of Bourbon as Louis XV's Prime Minister - wanted to find his king a royal bride who would not drag France into any complicated political alliances and supported the marriage. Upon her marriage, her name was modified into French as Marie Leczinska.

The young couple's marriage was initially happy and they had many children, most of whom were incredibly loyal to their mother. The first of her many children were born at the Palace of Versailles. Her eldest daughter, named Marie Louise Élisabeth was later the Duchess Consort of Parma and as such is an ancestor of Juan Carlos I of Spain. Louis XV was a notorious womanizer, and several of his mistressesparticularly the glamorous Madame de Pompadoureventually eclipsed the Queen's social status at Versailles. Most of his affairs were with her knowledge, and she either simply accepted them, or was powerless to stop them.

Marie was a devout Roman Catholic. Her major contribution to life at Versailles was the weekly event of Polish Choral Concerts. Upon her arrival at Versailles, Marie popularised the robe a la Polonaise - a polish style dress a style that would remain popular till the reign of Marie's grandson Louis XVI of France. She also met the young Mozart, whom she found very charming and acted as a go between for her husband and family who did not understand German. She also started a correspondence with the famous Voltaire, for whom she secured a pension.

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Jean-Marc Nattier (1685-1766)  Madame de La Porte  Oil on canvas, 1754  Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, AustraliaJean-Marc Nattier (1685-1766)  Portrait of Maria Leszczyńska  Oil on canvas, 1748  Musée national du Château, VersaillesJean-Marc Nattier (1685-1766)  Portrait Of A Lady Leaning On A Balustrade  Oil on canvas, 1754  30 7/8 x 24 3/4 inches (78.7 x 62.9 cm)  Private collection
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