Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Sun King's Palace

First off, let me just say HUZZAH! I had 97 pageviews yesterday :D In one day! Thanks, you guys!

Secondly, as I had promised a short break from my beloved Islamic architecture (I'd hate to be biased when I'm trying to encourage art interest in all disciplines and styles :)), we shall move on from Pompeiian Garden Houses to a particular French palace...

Château de Versailles - Versailles, France
It behooves me to tell ya'll that Versailles was actually first a small country village before it was ever the imposing, elegant compound it is today. While the town dates back before 1100, the Versailles palace compound was first truly established as a hunting lodge by Louis XIII in 1624, though the property was actually owned by someone else. The original structure, built by Philibert Le Roy, was made of stone and red brick with a based roof. Eight years later, Louis purchased the property from the Gondi Family (naturally from Florence) and began to make enlargements.

The palace was made the center of the French royal court in 1682 with Louis XIV and remained so until October 1789 of the French Revolution.

Only twenty kilometers from Paris, it is now considered a suburb of the capital city, from speaking from experience, the train ride won't take you very long. BUT you do need separate tickets to get both on the train to go to Versailles and to get off the train AT Versailles. Or maybe my friends and I just got a little confused...:)

Versailles has 2,153 windows, 700 rooms, 67 staircases, and is 67,000 meters squared.

It underwent four major building campaigns under Louis XIV. The first, 1664-1668, began with a large party of 600 guests from the 7th to the 13th of May, 1664, in honor of the country's Queen and Queen Mother (and Louis's then Mistress, Louise). The second building campaign, 1669-1672, began with the treaty ending the War of Devolution. The third building campaign, 1678-1684, began with the signing of the Treaty of Nijmegen, ending the Dutch War. This is when the Hall of Mirrors (pictured above) appeared. The final building campaign was from 1699-1710 after the War of the League of the concentrated mostly on the installation of the royal chapel.

It has 6,123 paintings, 1,500 drawings, 15,053 engravings, 2,102 sculptures, and 5,210 pieces of furniture and objects d'art in its current collection.

The place is basically an art wonderland. It's incredible. And I hate to be cliché and tourist-y, but besides the Gardens (and that's even considering they were the gardens in NOVEMBER), the Hall of Mirrors was my favorite room. And where there is a Hall of Mirrors, there is, of course, a gratuitous self-portrait-with-friends-in-the-mirror photo.

Couldn't resist. :)
This was taken in one of the rooms following the Hall of Mirrors. Art on the wall, paintings on the ceilings, incredible chandeliers, gold-leafed bust portraits, decorative wall sculpture...Versailles is impressive in scale by itself. But then add all of the "flare"? A mind-boggling experience for any Art Historian (or interested tourist), to be sure.

The chapel was probably my next favorite space. It was grand and given all of the people there, it was quiet. Humbling.

This was my favorite bedroom. Look at all the wonderful GREEN!!

Seriously ya'll, if you want to know more (and the history and explanation of this place can REALLY go on forever), go hop over to Wikipedia or the Versailles website. Especially the Versailles website. They have great interactive viewing tools!

1 comment:

  1. An amazing, other-worldly place. I love the reflection of you and your friends in the Hall of Mirrors. In the Hall of Battles is a painting of General Washington and French General Lafayette, a reminder that our nation's fortune and France have been linked for some time.