02/14/2014 05:09 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

The Story Behind One Of The Most Romantic Traditions Of All Time

Marta Nardini via Getty Images

Think the two dozen roses your co-worker got delivered to her desk this morning are impressive? That's nothing compared to the gesture made by the chief mistress of Louis XV, Madame de Pompadour.

According to legend, the "highly cultured" lover of ceramics put beds of rose petals everywhere to shame when she filled her outdoor conservatory with hand-made painted, porcelain flowers and carefully scented them to match the real ones, all in preparation for a visit from her man. When she challenged Louis and the courtiers to tell the difference, the king picked a porcelain one and, discovering what it was made from, bought the "Biscuit de porcelain factory," moved it to Sèvres, just southwest of Paris, and established it as the royal manufactory in 1756.

romantic tradition

And while that was all centuries ago, the classical gesture of Miss Pompadour is still alive and well in hand-modeled roses made by that same factory. So maybe next year, head to Atelier Courbet and pick up one of these unique works instead. It's beautiful, one-of a kind and romantic -- and you don't have to worry about whether or not it's getting enough water...



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