onsdag den 22. marts 2017

Staircases: Ground Floor

1) The Queen's Staircase

The Queen's Marble Staircase is also known simply as the Marble Staircase. When you reach the top of the Marble Staircase you will enter the Queen's Guards' Room and thus enter her apartments. The staircase derives its name from the incredible amounts of marble that went into the building of the staircase. Beautifully gilded reliefs of bronze has been added above the doors - one of them is adorned with two sphinxes and dates back to 1681. Golden engravings continue all the way near the ceiling and includes the arms of France flanked by palm leaves and the iconic fleur-de-lis of the French monarchy. Red, white and black marble has been used to make out the foundation of the staircase. Occasionally pilasters are crowned with golden tops.

A large painting by Jean Belin, Blain de Fourtenay, Meusnier Philippe and Poerson Charles-François. Remarkably enough two false doors has been added to create the much sought after symmetry - both doors are made of glass. One of the main "attractions" of the room is the golden sculpture on the landing of the first floor. Two large intertwined L's adorns a shield topped with a crown and flanked by olive branches; the shield is carried by two cherubs. On the first floor three large windows illuminates the staircase.

When Versailles was stormed in 1789 the infuriated peasants ran up the Queen's Marble Staircase and gained access to the Queen's Guards' Room.

Billedresultat for versailles escalier de la reine

Billedresultat for versailles escalier de la reine

Billedresultat for versailles escalier de la reine

Billedresultat for versailles escalier de la reine

Billedresultat for versailles escalier de la reine

2) The Fleury Staircase

Named after the Cardinal Fleury who was tutor to Louis XV the Fleury Staircase connects the Queen's apartment on the first floor with the private apartment of the Dauphine. The staircase will soon only be a memory of the past since it has been scheduled to be demolished to make room for air vents. 

Rez de chaussée - Aile centrale - Escalier - 57d Escalier Fleury

Photos by Christophe Duarte

3) The Billiard Staircase

The Billiard Staircase is well hidden away, tucked in as it is between three of the Dauphin's most used chambers and several of the private ones - consequently there are no windows so all lighting would have been by candlelight. The style follows the same simplicity used for the other private staircases.

Billedresultat for versailles escalier de billard

4) The Staircase of the Dupes
Marie Antoinette would use this particular staircase to reach her bathroom on the ground floor from her small apartments on the first one. The staircase is made of stone and is still hidden behind the panels. It is one of the many personal staircases that were not to be used by the public and has not been decorated accordingly - this one has bare stone walls and resembles more something from a medieval castle.

Billedresultat for escalier des dupes

5) The Semi-Circular Staircase of the Dauphin

The Dauphin's private staircase is uncommonly plain considering that it was made for the most important member of the royal family save the King. The staircase actually opens up unto to Antechamber of the l'Oeuil de Bouef which meant that the Dauphin could get directly to his father/grand-father if he needed to.

6) The Water Carriers' Staircase
Given the name and the proximity to the Queen's bathrooms it is likely that these stairs were used by the servants who carried the water to the royal bathtubs.

Billedresultat for escalier des porteurs d'eau

7) The Semi-Circular Staircase

Not much of interest can be said about this staircase except for the fact that it connects the King's private apartment on the first floor with a corridor connecting to the apartments of Mesdames Tantes on one side and the vestibule on the other. It looks out onto the Courtyard of the Stags.

Billedresultat for escalier semi circulaire versailles

8) The Staircase of the King

The King's Staircase was created in 1754 and in order to make room for it the cabinet des Coquilles was removed completely. It is located in the midst of the King's private apartments which makes it possible that it was for his use only - after all who would dare to use the King's private staircase without permission? Also - quite conveniently - the staircase leads up to the second floor where it opens up into Madame du Barry's apartments. The style looks as if it has been taken straight from the Petit Trianon of Marie Antoinette, so perhaps the Austrian Queen got some inspiration there? The staircase has a view of the Courtyard of the Stags.

9) The Epermon Staircase

The Epermon Staircase leads from the first floor - with direct access from the King's private chambers - to the second floor where it leads out into Madame du Barry's chambers. The staircase is designed with the characteristic simplicity that implies that it would not have been used by other than the King and his most intimate relations - notice that the steps themselves are made of wood rather than stone as is otherwise the norm.

Rez de chaussée - Aile centrale - Escalier - 82b Escalier d'Epermon

10) The Louis-Philippe Staircase

The Louis Philippe Staircase is of a simple construction compared to other staircases that can be found in the palace. The floor's pattern changes between black and white square tiles; this pattern is continued on both levels of the staircase. The surrounding walls are made of green and grey marble. It has been named after Louis Philippe who became King of the French in 1830 with the restoration of the Bourbon monarchy. The sky-light lets in light through most of the day; otherwise there are the two standing candlesticks.

View from the bottom of the staircase

tirsdag den 21. marts 2017

Madame Adélaïde's Apartment

1) Inner Cabinet

This room was made famous by Madame de Pompadour when she had begun her liaison with Louis XV. By 1750 the room was widely known as being the red lacquer room of Madame de Pompadour. It was in this very room that the King's influential mistress died. When Madame de Pompadour died the room passed on to the King's favourite daughter, Madame Adélaïde.
The furniture is brought to the palace from Bellevue which also happened to be the favourite residence of Mesdames Tantes and strongly show the taste for luxury that Madame Adélaïde was known to adore. Above the doors hangs carved panelling depicting the four seasons - and named the same. Also, four portraits adorn the walls of the room. Those of the Comte de Provence and the Comte d'Artois are made by Van Loo and those of Madame Elisabeth and Madame Clothilde are by Drouais.

2) Bedroom

Several members of the nobility used this room for different circumstances - including some of the King's favourites. In 1724 Madame de Montespan took over the room and in 1764 Madame de Pompadour died in this room. It was intended that the room should then be occupied by the Dauphine Marie-Josèphe of Saxony but she died before she could ever use the room - she lay in state in this room as well. Madame Victoire then took over the room before it was passed along to Madame Adélaïde in 1769.

The wood-work was commissioned for the Dauphine who sadly never had the chance to enjoy it; only the overdoors' frames are still the same as they where when Madame de Pompadour used this chamber. Portraits of Louis XV by Charles van Loo and the Mesdames Sophie, Victoire and Louise (both by Drouais) are used to adorn the walls. Madame Adélaïde had a bust of her brother, the Dauphin, placed on the marble chimney. The chairs were created in 1770 just a year after Madame Adélaïde took over the room. The wood-work on the white panels are exquisite and inspired by flowers. Unlike many of the other ceilings at Versailles this one has not been decorated with a large painting but left bare to complement the soft décor of the bedroom.

3) Grand Cabinet

Madame de Pompadour left her mark on many of the salons at Versailles and this was one of them. This was a part of Madame de Pompadour's apartments at Versailles until her death in 1764. The slight curve in the very shape of the room was by her design and the marble chimney was created for Madame de Pompadour. This mistress of the King had the walls decorated with the finest and most elaborate wood-work but none of it survives to the present day - instead the present walls are simply done in white wood-work without any further decoration to them.
After Madame de Pompadour's death this salon was transferred to the ownership of Madame Adélaïde who transformed it into her Grand Cabinet. The present cornice is restored to the style it had when Madame Adélaïde occupied the room. The lovely instrument belonged to Madame Adélaïde which is most likely also the case with the violin - Madame Adélaïde was renowned for her excellent violin-play.
The two large paintings are of Madame Adélaïde's elder sisters, Madame Henriette and Madame Elisabeth - both painted by Nattier. Three of Madame Adélaïde's other sisters - Mesdames Victoire, Sophie and Louise - are portrayed in a portrait that hangs above the door but this is painted by Douais. The chairs are gilded and lined with Beauvais tapestry.

lørdag den 18. marts 2017

Madame Victoire's Apartment

1) First Antechamber

This was the first antechamber of Madame Victoire - the "leading lady" of the Mesdames Tantes. It formerly served as Louis XIV's bath chamber at which time the salon was covered in tiles and a large tub was placed at the centre of the room - the tub is now at the orangerie.

Madame Victoire was not the first of the Mesdames to inhabit this room. Madame Adelaïde had lived there from 1752-53 and Madame Sophie had also occupied the room from 1755-1767 - and then it was passed on to Madame Victoire.

Billedresultat for versailles seconde antichambre victoire

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2) Second Antechamber

Along with the First Antechamber of Madame Victoire this room was originally a bathroom of Louis XIV. The Sun King had chosen to use marble for the walls and floors (much like you see in bathrooms of today). One end of the salon was dominated by a couch placed inside a framed alcove. The window shutters are also from the time when the room functioned as a bathroom and they are decorated with dolphins.

After Louis XIV the room went into the possession of the Count de Toulouse and after him the Countess de Toulouse. But rooms at Versailles often changed hands and this particular salon soon became the home of Madame Adélaïde. Madame Victoire took over the room but at that time she lived with her two other sisters Sophie and Louise. The room finally became Madame Victoire's completely when it was made into a second antechamber in 1767 - that year the alcove was removed.

It is widely believed that the wood-works were carved for Madame Victoire herself. The paintings above the doors (by Oudry) were originally intended for the Dauphin but found their way into this salon instead; they depict the Fables of La Fontaine. A white marble bust of Marie Josephine Louise of Savoy is placed on the mantelpiece. A Riesener chest-drawer placed in this room has been transferred from the southern wing from the apartment of the Countess d'Artois. A large folding-screen has been placed in the corner and a clock in the "Chinese" style rounds up the inventory list of the second antechamber. The colour of the walls are white which is quite a rare sight at Versailles; normally a wall is either elaborately decorated or painted in a pale colour on carved wood-work.

Billedresultat for versailles seconde antichambre victoire

Billedresultat for versailles seconde antichambre victoire

Billedresultat for versailles seconde antichambre victoire

Billedresultat for versailles seconde antichambre victoire

3) Grand Cabinet

Louis XIV used this room as a part of his bathing rooms - it was known as the octagonal room. At that time it was renowned for the extreme wealth in marble, paintings and sculptures that had gone into this room but that changed when the room was handed over to the Mesdames Tantes in 1763. They thought that the marble décor was too old-fashioned and immediately had the room redone after the new fashions. The only remaining parts of the original room are the cornice, the beautiful fireplace and the decorations in the corners - everything else had undergone a monumental change.

There is one object in particular that remains as a testimony to Madame Victoire's passion for music: the harpsichord by Blanchet. Madame Victoire was regarded as one of the finest players of this instrument - a thought shared by people outside the French court. Mozart himself dedicated his first six pieces on the harpsichord to the Madame.

4) Bedchamber

This room has changed hands quite a lot of times. Its first owner was Louis XIV who used it as an antechamber to his bathroom(s) - it was called the ionic antechamber due to the twelve marble columns that made out the decoration. Then it changed to the hands of the Count de Toulouse and from him to the Countess de Toulouse. Madame Adélaïde took over next until the room was passed on to the youngest sister of the Mesdames, Madame Sophie. Madame Sophie was given this room in 1767 and used it as a bedroom. A year later it changed owner again and became the bedroom of Madame Victoire as we know it today.

Rousseau was given the task of cutting the wood-work of Madame Victoire's bedchamber. The dominant colour of the bedchamber is a soft green mixed with a white pattern. When Madame Victoire took over the room in 1769 two corner cupboards was delivered from Péridiez. They were sold during the revolution but returned to Versailles when they were bought back in 1982 from England (before that the cupboards had been located in Russia). The screen in front of the fire-screen was delivered to the bedroom of the Countess de Provence in 1787.

Quite a few of the occupants of the room has been portrayed in paintings that now adorn the walls:
A portrait of Madame Sophie hangs above the left entrance - the princess is wearing a pink gown. Marie-Josèphe of Saxony is portrayed in the large portrait to the left of the rear wall. The centre picture is of Madame Adélaïde and to her right is the Dauphin Louis (son of Louis XV).

Billedresultat for versailles chambre victoire

Billedresultat for versailles chambre victoire

5) Blue Cabinet

The interior cabinet of Madame Victoire (the room is also referred to as "Petit Cabinet Bleu") was originally a part of the Doric Hall which was a part of the bath apartments. The large hall (also consisting of the two rooms next to this) was converted in 1724 to two antechambers for the Comte and Comtesse de Toulouse. The Comtesse de Toulouse's antechamber was further divided in 1767 into two small chambers. From then on the two small cabinets would function as a living room and a library. Madame Victoire commissioned a chest of drawers in 1768 which is still placed in the cabinet; today her alabaster dish is placed upon it. Antoine Rousseau was responsible for the pretty white and pale-blue wood-work done to the walks and the fireplace was created by Serancolin - both were restored to partially their original state. The dominant writing desk was made for the Mesdames Tantes for their favourite place of Bellevue.

A portrait of Madame Victoire herself hangs in the chamber. A couple of chairs in the room was originally located in the salons of Madame d'Harcourt but they were moved to the eldest of the Mesdames Tantes' rooms in 1787. Another portrait hangs in the room and portrays Madame Adélaïde.

Madame Victoire

6) Library

Madame Victoires' library was previously a part the salon next to it. The books in the cupboards are engraved with Madame Victoire's crest. The cupboards also contains the geographical maps of Madame Elisabeth and parts of a china set made by the court-favourite Sèvres that was originally made for Madame Adélaïde but is now on display in her sister's library.
However, it is a certainty that the vermeil table was made for Madame Victoire - it has her coat of arms engraved in it. The chairs were delivered to Madame de Pompadour in between 1755-60 and was later used by Madame Victoire as a part of her furniture at Bellevue - they were created by Nicolas Quinibert Foliot. The desk was created for either Madame Sophie or Madame Louise in 1760 and was originally housed in the south wing of the château. The top of the cupboards are painted in a pale moss-green surrounding a golden medallion.
A painting of the Battle of Fontenoy is placed in one of the cupboards.

Billedresultat for versailles bibliotheque victoire

Billedresultat for versailles bibliotheque victoire

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