I returned to Versailles in 2010 and again in 2013. But Versailles is so vast that there are still areas I haven't been to as yet, and it's a magnificent spectacle each time. Each visit is equally memorable and there's always something different, and I'd still like to go back to see more.
So last year as soon as I saw an ad for Versailles Treasures From The Palace at the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra, I did a sharp intake of air and knew that I would be going. What I didn't realise then was that it would turn into a family road trip to celebrate a special birthday, but I'm so glad that it did. Most of us had been to Versailles before in 2010 and 2013 and so it was special for all of us. The exhibition is magnificent and we had a great weekend of celebrations as well.
|A 17th century gate|
|Bust of Louis XIV 1665-66|
Jean Varin or Warin
This was an amazing rug from the passage way between The Louvre (back when it was a royal palace) and The Tuileries (back when it was a palace). Huge and spectacular, this was just one rug of 93 carpets made to line the Grand Galerie linking the two palaces. They were never used though and remain in beautiful condition.
|Carpet from the Grand Galerie du Louvre c 1682|
wool and hemp
Charles le Brun designer
Atelier de la Veuve Lourdet, weavers, Paris
|Queen Marie-Thérèse's reliquary, 1665-74|
gilded bronze, silver, paint on vellum
|Vase with boars and Janus heads 1665|
|Armchair for Madame de Pompadour's residence at Crécy c 1745|
Desk of the dauphin, son of Louis XV 1745
There are several rooms that celebrate the magnificent gardens of Versailles. The engineering and plumbing innovations that had to be done to create the fountains that are still unrivalled anywhere else in the world with 17th century equipment and knowledge is incredible. There is a interesting short video displayed as well as artefacts, paintings and recreations of the gardens and fountains- it's an innovative and beautifully displayed.
I've long held the notion that anything can be art if it's displayed just so.
|Keys for turning on the fountains|
late 17th-early 18th century, forged steel
I saw these in use in 1998!
One of my favourite part of the exhibition was a recreation of The Labyrinth that was installed in the gardens in the 17th century. I'd never heard of the labyrinth before, perhaps not surprisingly as it was taken down in 1774 and replaced with the Queen's Garden.
Originally conceived by André Le Nôtre in 1665 as an undecorated maze, the crossroads of each path were furnished in the 1670s with 39 fountains decorated with 330 painted lead animals illustrating classical parables. These new additions were inspired by the publication of Jean de La Fontain's Fables 1668, dedicated to Louis XIV's six-year-old heir.Only 35 animals have survived, and there were four or five presented here in a reimagined maze.
|Etienne and Jacques Blanchard|
The Monkey and his little ones
Much was made in the press before the exhibition about the inclusion of this magnificent sculpture. And rightly so, just getting Latona and her children to Australia was a tremendous undertaking. The statue had to be broken up for transport. But then to see it in place in the exhibition was astonishing. It was surrounded by a gorgeous audiovisual experience to recreate the experience of seeing the fountains at Versailles. It certainly did. I was moved to tears and sat watching it for some time.
|Latona and her children 1668-70|
|Marie Antoinette's Harp 1775|
|A register of the menus served to the king in 1751|
I was particularly keen on this trio of jam pots.
Versailles Treasures From the Palace is on at the National Gallery of Australia until April 17.
I might just go back. And as a member of NGA I already have my golden ticket... If for no other reason than that I totally missed the orange blossom perfume.
|Dreaming of France is a wonderful Monday meme|
from Paulita at An Accidental Blog
|Saturday Snapshot is a wonderful weekly |
meme now hosted by WestMetroMommy