The order of execution for Madame Du Barry, $24,000 (£19,300) at Potter & Potter.

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The 561-lot sale of more documents from the huge holdings of US manuscript collector Eric Caren at Potter & Potter (20% buyer’s premium) included the death warrant for Madame Du Barry (1743-93), mistress of Louis XV.

During the Reign of Terror, she was arrested, tried, and eventually executed by guillotine.

Under the simple letterhead of the Tribunal Revolutionnaire (the court instituted by the National Convention for the trial of political offenders) she is named as ‘Jeanne Vaubernier DuBarry’ and sentenced to death ‘tomorrow at 20.00’ at the Place de La Revolution.

The part-printed, part-handwritten document is dated 10th Fumaire, 2nd year of the Revolution’ for December 7, 1793, and signed by a deputy of the public prosecutor.

This remarkable survivor has been at auction at least three times before: at Christie’s London in May 1986, at Christie’s New York in May 1991 and latterly at Bonhams New York in April 2016 when, as part of a sale titled When History Unfolds: Treasures from the Caren Archives, it failed to sell with a guide of $7000-10,000.

When it reappeared in Chicago on April 22 it had an estimate of $4000-6000 and this time made $24,000 (£19,300), selling to an online bidder via the LiveAuctioneers platform.

Rise and fall

Madame du Barry (also known as Mademoiselle Vaubernier) was born Jeanne Bécu, the illegitimate child of a monk and a dressmaker.

Educated in a convent, she worked as a dame de compagnie to an elderly widow, a grisette in a haberdashery, and finally at a brothel-casino where she was introduced to the aristocratic gambler Jean du Barry.

She was brought to the attention of Louis XV in 1768 and soon recognised as the king’s paramour.

After the death of Louis XV in 1774, she was briefly banished to a nunnery before retiring to a country estate and at the outset of the French Revolution had fled to England.

However, after returning to France for a visit in 1792 she was arrested on suspicion of financially assisting émigrés who had fled the revolution.