Pair of 1860's French sphinxes from J. Nelson Antiques.

My absolute favorite items to shop for are one-of-a-kind antiques.  I love fact that antique furniture and artifacts always have a beautiful story behind them, they are true “Statement Pieces.”  While there are so many amazing places in LA for antiques, J.Nelson Antiques has continually been a first stop when I’m on the hunt for something unique.

A few years ago I was in J. Nelson and was lucky enough to snatch up this beautiful pair of late 19th century sculptures.  The minute I saw them I knew that I had to have them, and I had the perfect pair of 1860’s marble top console tables, from Kentshire Galleries, to display them.

These show-stoppers are French, Louis XVI-style terra-cotta sphinxes.  The sphinxes are depicting caricatures of Madame du Barry and Madame de Pompadour.  These women were honored as the last two maitresse-en-titres (mistress’ to the king) of King Louis XV of France.

They each have an interesting story as head mistress.  Madame de Pompadour was very involved with the King and enjoyed accompanying him while hunting, playing cards, and touring properties – among other activities.  She was very active in politics as well, and the King allowed her considerable leeway in the determination of a range of issues from military matters to foreign affairs.

After Pompadour’s death Madame du Barry fell into the role of Louis XV’s mistress.  While Pompadour was very active with the king and politics, Madame du Barry would rather pass her time pampering herself with custom gowns and jewels.  It is even rumored that Madame Du Barry created a false birth certificate declaring herself three years younger than her true age!  That is a sure way of keeping yourself young!