The grand king’s apartment, Palace of Versailles

The king’s State Apartment prestigious enfilade of seven salons was to serve as a parade apartment, that is to say, a setting for the official acts of the sovereign. That’s why it received a decoration of remarkable richness, according to the Italian model then very popular with the king: marble paneling and painted ceilings. During the day, the Grand Apartment was open to everyone and everyone could see the king and the royal family passing through it every day to go to the Chapel. Under Louis XIV, he was the part of the apartment evenings that took place several times a week.

The construction in 1668–1671 of Le Vau’s enveloppe around the outside of Louis XIII’s red brick and white stone château added state apartments for the king and the queen. The addition was known at the time as the château neuf (new château). The grands appartements (Grand Apartments, also referred to as the State Apartments) include the grand appartement du roi and the grand appartement de la reine. They occupied the main or principal floor of the château neuf, with three rooms in each apartment facing the garden to the west and four facing the garden parterres to the north and south, respectively. The private apartments of the king (the appartement du roi and the petit appartement du roi) and those of the queen (the petit appartement de la reine) remained in the château vieux (old château). Le Vau’s design for the state apartments closely followed Italian models of the day, including the placement of the apartments on the main floor (the piano nobile, the next floor up from the ground level), a convention the architect borrowed from Italian palace design.

The king’s State Apartment consisted of an enfilade of seven rooms, each dedicated to one of the known planets and their associated titular Roman deity. The queen’s apartment formed a parallel enfilade with that of the grand appartement du roi. After the addition of the Hall of Mirrors (1678–1684) the king’s apartment was reduced to five rooms (until the reign of Louis XV, when two more rooms were added) and the queen’s to four.

The queen’s apartments served as the residence of three queens of France – Marie-Thérèse d’Autriche, wife of Louis XIV, Marie Leczinska, wife of Louis XV, and Marie-Antoinette, wife of Louis XVI. Additionally, Louis XIV’s granddaughter-in-law, Princess Marie-Adélaïde of Savoy, duchesse de Bourgogne, wife of the Petit Dauphin, occupied these rooms from 1697 (the year of her marriage) to her death in 1712.

The State Apartments of the King
The construction of the Hall of Mirrors between 1678 and 1686 coincided with a major alteration to the State Apartments. They were originally intended as his residence, but the King transformed them into galleries for his finest paintings, and venues for his many receptions for courtiers. During the season from All-Saints Day in November until Easter, these were usually held three times a week, from six to ten in the evening, with various entertainments.

The hercules salon
The salon of Hercules is the last piece created at the end of the reign of Louis XIV. Indeed, since 1682, the chapel of the Castle occupied its location on two floors and it served until 1710, when it was replaced by the current royal chapel. A floor was then laid to create a new salon whose decoration was completed only under Louis XV. In 1730, this one makes come from Gobelin s, in Paris, the immense painting of Veronese, The Meal at Simonwhich the Republic of Venice had offered to Louis XIV in 1664 and which had been stored there since his arrival in France. The work of the Salon d’Hercule lasted until 1736, when François Lemoyne completed the painting of the ceiling depicting The Apotheosis of Hercules. By its effect, this vast allegorical composition, counting no less than one hundred and forty-two characters, wanted to compete with the masterpieces of the Italian fresco artists, but it was made on stained canvases, that is to say stuck on the support. Despite his appointment as the first painter of the king that Louis XV granted him as a reward for his work, Lemoyne, exhausted by this gigantic construction site that took him four years, commits suicide a year later, in 1737.

The abundance fair
On evenings, the Abundance Salon was the place for refreshments; a buffet offered coffee, wines and liqueurs. It was also the antechamber of the Cabinet of Curiosities or Rarities of Louis XIV (now occupied by the Salon des Jeux de Louis XVI) which was accessed through the back door. The king liked to show his guests the goldsmith vases, the gems and the medals which were preserved there and which inspired the decoration of the vault, where one can see in particular the large royal nave, represented above the door. The nave of the king, a precious object in the form of a dismasted ship, was placed on the sovereign’s table for special occasions, or on the sideboard. Symbol of power, which everyone was to greet in passing, it contained the towel of the sovereign.

The venus salon
This salon, as well as the Salon de Diane, was the main access to the Grand Apartment because the grand staircase of the Castle, known as the ” Ambassadors ‘ Staircase ” ended there, before its destruction in 1752. Like all the following rooms, this salon takes its name of a planet, theme related to the solar myth that inspired all the decor of Versailles in the 1670s. Here, Venus is represented on the ceiling under the features of the goddess of Love, which in Greek antiquity was associated with this planet. The other painted compositions, which decorate the voussures, represent great men or ancient heroes whose actions, inspired by the divinity of the place, often offer more or less transparent allusions to the actions of Louis XIVhimself. Thus the arch representing Alexander marrying Roxane evokes the marriage of the king, while the one showing the Emperor Augustus presiding at circus games alludes to the carousel of 1662 given in honor of Queen Maria Theresa.

Of all the enfilade, the living room of Venus presents the most baroque decoration. This is the only place where Le Brun has had a dialogue between architectures, sculptures and paintings, sometimes real and sometimes feigned: the pilasters and marble columns are taken up in the perspectives painted by Jacques Rousseau, and two trompe-l’oeil statues from side of the windows respond to the figure of Louis XIV by Jean Warin.

In the evenings, there were tables in the living room covered with baskets of flowers, pyramids of fresh and rare fruits such as oranges and lemons, as well as candied fruit and marzipan.

Diane’s living room
In Greek antiquity, the goddess of Hunting, Diana, sister of Apollo, the god of the Sun, was associated with the moon. The central part of the ceiling executed by Gabriel Blanchard represents Diane presiding over navigation and hunting. The arches take up these two themes, celebrating the hunting tastes of Louis XIV (Cyrus hunting boar by Audran, Alexander chasing the lion, by La Fosse) and alluding to the Royal Navy which Colbert ensured at the same time the considerable development (Julius Caesar sending a Roman colony to Carthage by Audran, Jason and the Argonauts, by La Fosse). On the mantel, the painting by Charles de La Fosse representsThe Sacrifice of Iphigenia (showing the intervention in extremis of Diane) and, in front, above the console, Diane and Endymion Gabriel Blanchard. The antique busts come from the collections of Cardinal Mazarin bequeathed to Louis XIV.

Like Salon de Venus, Diane’s salon served as a vestibule for the Grand Apartment and, in the time of Louis XIV, evenings of apartments and billiard rooms. Two steps that were placed there allowed the public to follow the games where often shone the king, very adept at this game.

The mars salon
Following the two previous salons, designed as vestibules, the March Salon marked the beginning of the King’s apartment proper by its function of guard room. His consecration to the god of war is therefore entirely adequate. In the center of the ceiling, Claude Audran painted Mars on a tank pulled by wolves. The work is framed by two compositions; one, to the east, by Jouvenet: Victory supported by Hercules followed by Abundance and Bliss; the other, to the west, by Houasse: Terror, Fury and Terror, seizing the powers of the earth. The arches, treated in monochrome, celebrate the triumphs warriors of the rulers of antiquity to which respond naturally the high military facts of the king evoked by the ginger stucco wedges of the brothers Marsy. Finally, the cornice accentuates the military vocation by being adorned with helmets and various warrior hairstyles.

To the left of the chimney, we can see The Family of Darius at the feet of Alexander, by Charles Le Brun and on the right The Pilgrims of Emmaus, after Veronese: placed in pendant, according to the will of the king, they reveal the the desire to show that French painters could compete with the greatest Italian masters. On both sides of the fireplace, where the paintings are today, two stands, removed in 1750, were intended for musicians when, on evenings in the apartment, the salon was reserved for music and music. to the dance.

On the side walls are two ceremonial portraits: Louis XV and Marie Leszczinska, both painted by Carle Van Loo. Four paintings by Simon Vouet, from the castle of Saint-Germain-en-Laye, illustrating the royal virtues, are placed above door: Temperance, Prudence, Justice and Strength.

The mercury salon
Originally, the salon of Mercure was the parade chamber of the Grand Apartment, hence its name “bed room”, although soon this bed was removed in winter to free space and there play tables. Tables, mirrors, andirons and massive silver chandeliers beautifully carved by goldsmiths Gobelins decorated walls, ceilings and fireplace, until 1689, when Louis XIV had to resolve to melt them to finance the war of the Augsburg League. A balustrade, also of silver, separated the alcove from the rest of the room. Brocades – fabrics woven of gold and silver threads – stretched the walls and the bed, but they were in turn sent to the Mint to support this time the War of Spanish Succession. One of the rare moments when the salon of Mercury really served as room was that of the proclamation of the Duke of Anjou, grandson of Louis XIV, as king of Spain: the new sovereign slept there for three weeks, before to win his kingdom. It is also in this room that, from 2 to 10 September 1715, was exposed the coffin containing the mortal remains of Louis XIV.

The ceiling painted by Jean-Baptiste de Champaigne represents Mercury on his chariot pulled by two cocks. The god presides over commercial exchanges, the arts and sciences, and, as messenger of the gods, embassies, themes that are found in the crests of the ceiling: Alexander the Great bringing to Aristotle various foreign animals so that he writes his Natural History, Augustus receiving an Indian Embassy, Alexander receiving an embassy from Ethiopians and Ptolemy Philadelphus discussing with scholars in the Alexandria Library. These scenes echo events of the reign of Louis XIV such as the reception of distant embassies, the development of the royal library or publication, in the collection of the Cabinet of the King in 1671, the Natural History of Claude Perrault.

The bed that we can now see is the one that Louis Philippe had installed in the King’s Chamber in the in processing of Versailles museum e. On both sides hang two paintings that Louis XIV particularly praised and had had exhibited in his room: David playing the harp by Dominiquin and Saint John Patmos, then attributed to Raphael.

The apollo salon
Designed to be the sovereign’s state chamber, the Apollo Salon was eventually used as the throne room from 1682. The ceiling is dedicated to the god of the sun, arts and peace. The solar symbol, chosen very early by Louis XIV, is represented by Apollo rushing on his chariot, surrounded by allegorical figures. The arches illustrate the magnificence and magnanimity of the king, through examples taken from antiquity: Vespasian building the Colosseum, Augustus edifying the port of Misene, Porus before Alexander and Coriolanus begged by his mother and his wife to spare Rome.

Until 1689, a platform under a canopy hosted the famous silver throne of Louis XIV (actually a huge wooden chair two meters sixty high, covered with silver plates and sculptures). This extraordinary furniture sent to the cast was replaced by a succession of golden armchairs, whose style evolved over time.

Above the fireplace hangs the most famous portrait of Louis XIV, painted by Hyacinthe Rigaud. The painter made the original portrait in 1701, at the request of the king himself, who wished to offer it to his grandson who became king of Spain. Conquered by the result, Louis XIV wished to keep the original for him and ordered copies from the artist. The copy of Versailles is the copy made in 1702. The original of the painting is at the Louvre Museum.

Palace of Versailles
Ranked 30 years at the World Heritage Site, the palace of Versailles is one of the finest achievements of French art in the XVII th century. The former hunting lodge of Louis XIII was transformed and expanded by his son Louis XIV who installed his court and his government in 1682. Until the French Revolution, kings succeeded one another, embellishing the castle each in their turn.

The Château now has 2,300 rooms spread over 63,154 m 2.

In 1789, the French Revolution forced Louis XVI to leave Versailles for Paris. The Castle will never be a royal residence, and knows the XIX th century a new destiny: in 1837, he became Museum of the History of France, by the will of King Louis-Philippe, who ascended the throne in 1830. The The rooms of the Château welcome new collections of paintings and sculptures representing both the great characters that illustrate the history of France and the major events that mark it. These collections are enriched until the beginning of the 20th centurycentury. It was then that, under the influence of his most eminent curator, Pierre de Nolhac, the castle reconnected with its own history by finding, in the whole of the central body, its aspect of royal residence of Ancien Régime.

The Palace of Versailles has never had a protective function in the sense of the medieval castle. From the Renaissance, the term “castle” refers to the rural situation of a sumptuous residence, as opposed to the urban palace. We thus speak of the “Palais du Louvre”, in the heart of Paris, and the “Château de Versailles”, in the countryside. Versailles was then a village, destroyed in 1673 to make way for the new city wanted by Louis XIV. Today the centerpiece of Versailles urban planning, the Château now seems far from the countryside that would distinguish it from a palace. Yet, on the garden side, to the west, the estate of Versailles still adjoins wood and agricultural fields.