Tuesday, 14 March 2017

The King's Grand Apartment



1) Salon of Hercules
The Hercules Salon connects the Northern Wing with the Grand Apartments of the King. The room was commissioned by Louis XIV in 1710 but when he died shortly afterwards the building process was put on hold until 1724 during Louis XV. The room was finally finished in 1736.
Louis XV used this room as a ball room because he thought that the Mars Salon was too small and the Hall of Mirrors too large. The very first ball held in this salon was a celebration of the marriage between Marie Louise-Élisabeth and Infante Filipe of Spain on January 26, 1739. During the reign of Louis XVI the salon was used for political reasons such as receiving foreign ambassadors.



Billedresultat for salon d'hercule

Billedresultat for salon d'hercule


Ceiling in Versailles Salon d’Hercule, named for the painting "Apotheosis of Hercules".  Artist, François Lemoyne:
Ceiling

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Billedresultat for salon d'hercule





2) Salon of Abundance
When the King and Queen held their evening soirées they would use this room for refreshments. Liqueurs, wine and coffee would be arranged on elegant tables - ready for the privileged guests. Also, it worked as the antechamber of the Cabinet of Curiosities (of which nothing remains) which is now the Gaming Room of Louis XVI.
Whenever the King had private guests, he used this room to exhibit his silverware vases, precious gemstones and medals - a sight that would always bring out the admiration in the viewers. Above the vault the royal vessel has been depicted and the King's vessel itself (a precious "statue" of a ship without a mast) was often exhibited during the soirées or placed on the King's table during the official suppers. In fact, this object was the very symbol of power and everyone had to salute it when they went by!

The room was filled with gilded chairs lined with green velvet on the evening soirées - this is what inspired the tapestry when the room was restored in 1955.

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Billedresultat for salon d'abondance

Billedresultat for salon d'abondance

Billedresultat for salon d'abondance




3) Salon of Venus 
Along with the Salon of Diana, the Salon of Venus is the main entrance to the Grand Apartments - this means that the courtiers used these rooms to get to the King and Queen's Grand Apartments. Earlier the Ambassador's Staircase ended here but it was destroyed to make more room. When the so-called "evening soirees" (social gatherings for specially invited courtiers) were held, this salon was filled with small tables with  either huge bouquets of flowers or rare, exotic fruit. Sometimes, there would also be served marzipan and crystallized fruit.
On these occasions the salon was lit by two very large chandeliers and eight smaller chandeliers of crystal. The chairs were lined with green velvet and laced with gold.

The ceiling is decorated with a painting of the planet Venus along with symbols associated with the Goddess of Love (same name in Greek mythology). The mouldings are decorated with the actions of heroes of the Antiquity - some of them related to Venus, others to Louis XIV himself. Of the Grand Apartments this is the one that features the highest level of the Baroque style

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Billedresultat for salon de venus versailles

Billedresultat for salon de venus versailles



4) Salon of Diana
Named after the goddess Diana who was the goddess of the hunt. During Louis XIV the room was used for billiard games during the evening soirées. In this context, the room was also known as the "chamber of applause" due to the continuous applause from the Court ladies that immediately broke out every time Louis XIV made a brilliant stroke - this happened quite often since the Sun King was very good at billiard. The pool table was covered in red velvet and trimmed with gold fringes; it was placed at the centre of the room. The floors were covered with Persian carpets. Alongside the Salon of Venus it formed an antechamber to the King's Grand Apartments.

The goddess Diana was linked with the moon which has inspired the décor of the salon - marble of colder shades cover the walls. Hunting scenes from the antiquity has been painted in the mouldings which is probably one of the most obvious references to Louis XIV himself who happened to be an excellent hunter as well.

Like the other salons of the Grand Apartments, the ceiling is extravagantly decorated with a large painting done by Gabriel Blanchard - he also created a painting that is placed opposite to the mantelpiece  The painting depicts Diana herself in presiding over a hunt and navigation at the same time. The large bust depicts Louis XIV (of course) and was transferred to Versailles from the collection of the Cardinal de Mazarin. Two other busts flank the large marble bust of Louis XIV. The busts are of two ancient ladies (one is thought to be an Empress) and they are both made of white marble as well. Another painting adorns the mantelpiece; this artwork is by Charles de la Fosse.

Billedresultat for salon de diane versailles

Billedresultat for salon de diane versailles

Billedresultat for salon de diane versailles


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Diana Salon:




5) Salon of Mars
It was originally intended that the Salon of Mars should be used for the guards which is why the room was dedicated to Mars, the god of war. Due to its position it was natural that the Salon of Mars should also be included in the evening soirées. During these occasions it was used as a ballroom where there would be played music and danced. There used to be two canopies on either side of the fireplace that were intended for the musicians. This particular salon is rich on paintings and portraits.

Once again the god that the salon is dedicated to has also inspired the art of the room. The ceiling's main painting is of Mars in a chariot by Claude Audran. There are two paintings on either side of the main painting of the ceiling: one is  "Victory supported by Hercules followed by Abundance and Felicity" and the other is "Terror, Fury and Fright takes over the powers of Earth".
Four paintings have been moved from Saint-Germain-en-Laye to Versailles and depicts Temperance, Prudence, Force and Justice.

Even Louis XIV's favourite painting ("David playing the harp") adorns the red velvet walls of the salon above the fireplace. Portraits of Louis XIV and Marie Leszszinska is also hung in this room. To achieve symmetry in the room two false doors were created. The door frame into the Salon of Diana is made of pure marble just like the fireplace.


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Salon de Mars, Château de Versailles - © EPV / Thomas Garnier - European Night of Museums:

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6) Salon of Mercury
Serving as a parade chamber a huge bed was placed at the centre of the room but was removed during the winter in order to make room for gaming tables. The King's bed was embroidered with his arms  Originally this room was filled with furniture of solid silver: a balustrade, tables, mirrors, chandeliers and a mantelpiece - however these were melted down in 1689 so Louis XIV could pay for the costly wars. Also the magnificent tapestries of brocade woven in gold and silver thread were sacrificed to pay for the Spanish War of Succession. After the death of the Sun King his body lay in state in this very room for 8 days.

When the Duke d'Anjou was proclaimed to be the next King of Spain he stayed in this room with his new rank - he would occupy the salon for a couple of weeks.

Once again the god that inspired the name of the salon also inspired the decoration. The ceiling is adorned with a large painting of Mercury in his chariot painted by Jean-Baptiste de Champaigne. Besides this main painting there are four other paintings in the ceiling moulds; these include several figures from the Antiquity such as Aristotle, Alexander and Augustus. A large clock is on display in the room. It was offered to Louis XIV by its maker Antoine Morand in 1706. One can see through the clock mechanism and the clock is adorned with a miniature figure of Louis XIV crowned by victory. The bed that is now at display in the Mercury salon is the one that Louis-Philippe placed there when he transformed Versailles from a royal residence to a museum. 
The remaining furniture in the room has been recreated after the Versailles inventory list since the original furniture was lost during the Revolution.

Palace of Versailles:


Chateau de Versailles - Salon de Mercure:

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Billedresultat for salon de mars versailles



7) Salon of Apollo
This particular salon was of great importance - at least symbolically. Apollo was the god of the sun, the arts and peace and the god that Louis XIV identified with the most - his nick-name "the Sun King" is derived from this.
The Apollo Salon served as the throne room and until 1689 housed a 2,60 metre throne but it was melted down in order to pay for costly wars. All the other furniture - of solid silver - were also melted down. Today a gilded wooden chair has been placed on a dais on a Persian carpet. Like most other rooms of Versailles, this room was decorated with lavish tapestries - in this particular case the tapestries changed: during wintertime they would be made of a lavish red velvet embroidered with gold and silver and during summertime these would be replaced with red silk - also embroidered with gold and silver.

The importance of the Apollo salon is clearly demonstrated through the amazing ceiling painted in colour. These paintings consists of "Apollo in the Chariot of the Sun accompanied by the Seasons" by Chalres de la Fosse. Above the fireplace hangs a portrait with a familiar face - Louis XIV himself. On the opposite wall a equally large portrait of Louis XVI is hanging.

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Apollo Salon:

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Apollo salon:

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8) Salon of War
Work on the War Salon began in 1678 and was finished off with Le Brun's decoration in 1786. The overall décor depicts the victories of France and leads up to the long-longed for  peace at Nijmegen. Le Brun chose marble to adorn the walls and six trophies - not to mention the bronzed carvings - are the main features of the decoration. The salon is placed as the very last room of the King's Grand Apartments. Originally the room was laid out to be the Salon of Jupiter but the plans were changed - today the War Salon is symmetrical to the Peace Salon on the other side of the Hall of Mirrors.

Louis XIV is strongly represented by a large relief of the Sun King himself on horseback obviously defeating his enemies - this was another way to underline the glorious monarch. Above hangs a bas-relief with none other than Clio predicting the King's future; one can only imagine that the prediction was good. Le Brun also worked on the ceiling where he painted an armed France in the midst floating on clouds and surrounded by victories. Another portrait of Louis XIV is part of this painting - the shield clearly depicts the King. Four panels accompany the huge painting at the ceiling, each symbolic and paying tribute to French victory: the first three are those enemies that France has already conquered: Germany (symbolized by a kneeling eagle), Spain (a roaring lion) and Holland (upside down on a lion). The last panel depicts the goddess of war in a rage between the symbols of rebellion and discord.

Billedresultat for salon de guerre versailles

Billedresultat for salon de guerre versailles

Billedresultat for salon de guerre versailles

Billedresultat for salon de guerre versailles

Billedresultat for salon de guerre versailles

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