A visit to Versailles, continued…

7 December 2009

The delicate green and gold room next to Marie Antoinette’s bedroom. The colours always remind me of Quality Street wrappers! It was in this room that her waiting women were dozing when they first heard the cry of alarm that warned them that the mob had broken into the palace and were on their way to the Queen’s rooms.

Posthumous portrait by Adélaïde Labille-Guiard of Louis XV’s favourite daughter, Louise-Élisabeth, who was also the only one of his eight daughters to ever marry and leave Versailles. She married the Duke of Parma and became mother to Isabella, who married Marie Antoinette’s brother Joseph; Ferdinand, who married Marie Antoinette’s sister Maria Amalia and finally Marie Louise, who became Queen of Spain and was infamously depicted in later life by Goya as a decrepit, dissolute harridan.

A closer view of the painting. The child is Ferdinand, who later succeeded his father as Duke of Parma and was the husband of the Archduchess Maria Amalia.

Madame Adélaïde by Labille-Guiard. At the time of Marie Antoinette’s arrival at Versailles, Adélaïde was the oldest of Louis XV’s remaining daughters and very much ruled the roost while exerting a negative and unwise influence over her young nephew, the Dauphin Louis.

Marie Antoinette as a young queen, painted shortly after her accession by Vigée-Leburn in what was to be one of her first royal commissions.

Madame Victoire by Labille-Guiard. Victoire was another of Louis XV’s daughters, who remained at Versailles as middle aged spinsters.

The iconic portrait of Marie Antoinette with her children, painted by Vigée-Lebrun in 1787, just two years before their world was ripped apart.

A closer view of the painting. The empty cradle originally held the youngest child of Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI, the Princesse Sophie-Béatrix, who died as a baby.

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A view from the palace. So beautiful.

I think this may be my favourite shot of Versailles. I love the way that the mellow September sunshine dapples against the old gilt paintwork.

Another view of the same room, showing the beautiful clash of gilt, crystal and crimson silk.

Many of the rooms at Versailles have this amazing marble decoration with different coloured marbles arranged geometrically. It is a very masculine style, I think, and was probably Louis XIV’s own taste.

A view of David’s copy of his monumental ‘Sacrée de Napoléon’, which depicts the coronation of Napoleon or rather the coronation of his wife, the amazing Joséphine. Legend has it that she persuaded David to depict the moment that she was the centre of attention, probably to fling it in the teeth of Napoléon’s family who hated her and truly were the in laws from hell.

A closer view of Joséphine.

Madame de Ségur and Madame de la Rochefoucauld holding up Joséphine’s enormously heavy train, which her spiteful sisters in law deliberately dropped on the way into the cathedral in the hopes that she would fall over.

Looking like butter wouldn’t melt in their mouths: Julie Clary, wife of Napoléon’s brother, Joseph; Hortense, the daughter of Joséphine and wife of Napoléon’s brother, Louis and next to them the trio of Napoléon’s ill wishing sisters: Elisa, Pauline and Caroline.

A portrait of Joséphine.

Hortense gazing out of another canvas, with her brother Eugène beside her, as usual making the Bonaparte in laws look like a very vulgar and unattractive rabble.

A staircase that is ornamented like a very sumptuous cake!

A beautiful marble vestibule.

A view from the window at the side of the château.

A view of the famous ‘bull’s eye’ in the Oeuil de Boeuf.

A triumphant Louis XIV in the Oeuil de Boeuf.

Another self portrait.

I always feel that Louis XVI is a bit under represented at Versailles. Everyone is interested in Louis XIV and Marie Antoinette and poor old Louis XV and Louis XVI barely get a look in.

The young Louis XIV surrounded by his family.

The adorable Minette, Henriette-Anne, Duchesse d’Orléans: an English princess at the court of France.

Another view of the Oeuil de Boeuf. This room was the antechamber to the king’s bedchamber, which lay at the very centre of the château. It was into this room that Marie Antoinette stumbled after her terrifying escape down the secret passage beside her bed in October 1789.

The King’s bedroom.

A closer view of the sumptuous and rather masculine fabric that hangs in the king’s bedroom.

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