Versailles–the Details

To continue the theme of images from Versailles, I have brought out some images of the details of Versailles. These are bits and pieces of the palace on a more human scale. I may at some point get a chance to pinpoint where each photo is from. Until then, enjoy them for what they are!

Boiseries

Boiseries are highly-decorate wall panels, common in 18th-century decor. They were often white with gilt, but of course the design was entirely contingent on the whims of personal tastes. Rooms at the time were designed as a whole, and to-order. Furniture, upholstery, mirrors, molding–it was all custom-made for the room it was put into. Below are some examples of boiseries in Versailles. I was struck by the intricate beauty of the designs. After so many centuries they have a “shabby chic” appeal–just enough age to show character.

Ceilings

If you ever go to Versailles, don’t forget to look up. All the ceilings are painted–every damn inch of them. The style is decidedly rococo, of the time of Louis XIV. It’s all allegorical, and themed. The state apartments, such as the Salon de Mars and the Salon d’Hercule, are painted accordingly with images of their eponymous Greek gods. Everything that isn’t painted is gilded. It makes for a spectacular–but to my eyes, rather gaudy–display. The idea, of course, was to make a statement. These were public rooms. It’s no mistake that the king appears among the gods.

Furniture and Doorways

Of course, no one really lived in the state apartments; they were for display purposes, mostly.  Even the public rooms, however, were part of a large, working household. The more intimate sections of the palace, like the apartments of the Dauphin and Dauphine (in this case referring to Louis XVI’s parents, who died before becoming king and queen) or the apartments of Mesdames Tantes (Louis XVI’s maiden aunts), give a better idea of how life was actually lived. Below are some pictures. The two pictures on the bottom left are from the Queen’s Bedroom. On the left is an open door, through which Marie-Antoinette escaped when the palace was attacked. On the right, if you look closely you can see a doorway which led into the more private rooms beyond.

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