Du Barry, Marie Jeanne Bécu, Comtesse (1743?-1793), a mistress of Louis XV of France. From 1769 until Louis' death in 1774, she was one of the most important members of his court. She was especially significant as a patron of the arts.
Marie Bécu was of illegitimate birth and was raised in a convent. She worked as a lady's maid and in a hat shop, then became a courtesan in Paris. She was the mistress of a gambling house owner, Jean Chevalier du Barry, when Louis XV became fascinated by her wit and beauty. The king arranged for her to become the wife (in name only) of du Barry's brother. Louis then established her as successor to Madame de Pompadour, his previous official mistress.
During the French Revolution Madame du Barry was accused of having been an enemy of the people, in particular for her notorious spending on jewelry. She was beheaded.