Monday, 18 March 2013

The King's Grand Apartments

The King's Grand Apartments consist of seven rooms, all named after Roman gods. Originally the designer, LeVau, built the Salon d'Apollo as the centre of the apartments because it was designed as the King's bedroom - however Louis XIV used the salon as a throne room. The seven salons are:

  • Salon de Diane (goddess of the hunt and associated with the moon)
  • Salon de Mars (god of war and associated with the planet, Mars)
  • Salon de Mercure (god of trade, commerce and liberal arts. He is connected to the planet of Mercury)
  • Salon d'Apollo (god of the fine arts, plague and disease and protector of the young; he is associated with the Sun)
  • Salon de Jupiter (god of law and order and connected to the planet of Jupiter) 
  • Salon de Saturne (god of agriculture and the harvest, linked to the planet Saturn)
  • Salon de Venus (godess of love and associated with the planet Venus) 
All the rooms were decorated by Charles LeBrun and were decorated with silver furniture but due to the War of the League of Augsburg the furniture was melted down in order to keep the cost of the war down. Louis XIV used the salons for his "les soirées de l'appartement", which were evening receptions that the King gave thrice every week. Each salon held its own purpose:
The Salon de Venus was used for a buffet for the guests and food was displayed in this room. The Salon de Diane was a billiard room and the Salon de Mercure was a gaming room, where the courtiers could gamble for their amusement. The Salon de Mars served as a ballroom and finally the Salon d'Apollo was used for concerts and music. This was the order of things from 1648 to the end of Louis XIV's reign.

The Salons of Venus and Diane served as an entrance to the King's Grand Apartments. The designer Charles Lebrun meant to use his design to show that the French painters could rival the masters of Italy. It is very likely that the Mars Salon was given its military style because the room used to serve as a guard room. However the design of Salon de Jupiter and the Salon de Saturne was used for other rooms due to the building of the Hall of Mirrors which meant that these two rooms could not be built at the planned location.

Many - if not all - of the rooms was decorated with paintings that either depicted Roman gods and goddesses alongside emperors and famous warriors who paid homage to Louis XIV and his actions or a parallel between the King and the Roman deities. The Apollo Salon has a painting of the Roman emperor Augustus building the port of Misenum - a direct reference to Louis XIV who had built the port of La Rochelle.

During the time of Louis XV two rooms were added to the King's Grand Apartments: the Salon d'Hercule and the Salon de l'Abondance (Salon of Hercules and the Abundance Room). The Salon d'Hercule was the very last of the King's Grand Apartments to be finished and is decorated with no less than 142 allegory compositions. The Salon de l'Abondance served mainly as the "Cabinet of curiosities or rarities" where the King liked to show his guests his rare and priceless vases, gemstones and medals.

Salon de Mecure

Salon d'Abondance

Salon de Diane

Salon de Mars

Salon de Venus

Salon d'Apollo

The Salon d'Hercule

1 comment:

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