Hôtel de Rambouillet. The réunion of rank and literary genius on terms of equality; a coterie where sparkling wit with polished manners prevails. The Marquise de Rambouillet, in the seventeenth century, reformed the French soirées, and purged them of the gross morals and licentious conversation which at that time prevailed. The present good taste, freedom without licentiousness, wit without double entendre, equality without familiarity, was due to this illustrious Italian. The Précieuses Ridicules of Molière was a satire on those her imitators who had not her talent and good taste. Catherine, Marquise de Rambouillet (1588-1665).
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894