Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Apartment of the Grand Dauphin

Louis, le Grand Dauphin was the second-most important person at court politically; his position was clouded by his father and per French tradition the Queen had no political power. As such his apartments were required to display his status.

The Grand Dauphin had a suite of five rooms located directly beneath the state apartment of the Queen - consequently, they were on the ground floor. The apartment consisted of three antechambers, a grand cabinet and a bedroom. The three antechambers held the costly collection of artwork which the Grand Dauphin was famous for. They led on to the grand cabinet - located underneath the Salon of Peace - and from the cabinet the bedroom was reached. The Grand Dauphine's apartment was directly adjoined to that of her husband.

The Grand Dauphin

When James II of England came to France to visit Louis XIV the Sun King led him to his son's apartments as a part of the château's wonders; so impressive was the artworks to be found in those chambers. While the collection is somewhat intact their original setting is not. In 1747 Louis XV ordered a complete restoration of the apartments on the ground floor. Consequently, the stucco and additional decor of the Grand Dauphin's apartments are completely gone.

We can only use the statements of the Grand Dauphin's contemporaries to imagine what it truly looked like. Félibien gives us an insight into the treasury that was the apartments of the heir:
"one sees in the cabinets of his apartment an exquisite collection of all that is most rare and precious, not only in respect to the necessary furniture, tables, cabinets, porcelains,  mirrors, chandeliers but also paintings by the most famous artists, bronzes, agates, jewels and cameos ..."

The artists of his father had also adorned the Grand Dauphin's apartments. Mignard had adorned the ceilings with mythological scenes while the larger pieces of furniture were creations by Boulle. One particular piece of furniture had another origin, though, and a price tag that would make most people gasp. In the grand cabinet a large table stood; it was cut entirely from silver by Balin and cost no less than 68.259 livres!

The grand cabinet certainly earned its name. Originally, it had been three separate rooms: Monsieur's cabinet and bedroom and Madame's cabinet. They were fused together in 1693 to create the grand cabinet of Monseigneur.

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