Thursday, February 15, 2018

Book Review: VERSAILLES: A Private Invitation

I have been absolutely enveloped in a new series I happened across on Netflix called Versailles, have any of you watched it? An episodic history lesson of the Sun King, Louis XIV of France, his reign, and his lifelong pursuit of turning what had been his father's hunting lodge in the remote landscape of tree rich Versailles, into a castle fit for the gilded King. Initially built of stone and brick, the expansions occurred from 1661 - 1715, some 54 years. Louis XIV and his successors spent enormous sums of their private wealth and the wealth of France and "New France", now known as Canada, on the renovations and new buildings at Versailles. An under-valued estimation in 2000 suggested a total of $2 Billion USD was spent under Louis XIV alone. While the show is about much more than the Chateau, the shots of Versailles, including it's stunning Marble Court, are undoubtedly the most beautiful cinematographic parts of the series.

The show is a gem, honestly, and while racy for sure, it is without a doubt one of the most beautiful shows on television. Filmed partially at Versailles, and then in a Canadian studio, the show is currently airing in its second season, which I have yet to watch. Given that I have been so deeply engaged in the show, and all of the beauty of Versailles, when I found out that Flammarion was re-publishing a coffee table book titled VERSAILLES: A Private Invitation, by Guillaume Picon, I jumped at the chance to get a copy and dive even further into the castle.

The book unravels hidden secrets, and celebrates all of the unmatched beauty of Versailles on every single page. Previously unseen interiors, including Marie Antoinette's boudoir are showcased, along with every stunning photo by Francis Hammond, the photographer given carte blanche inside and outside of Versailles for this epic invitation into the largest chateau in the world.

The well-known marble court, part of the original construction of the hunting lodge built by Louis XIII, renovated by Louis XIV.

The south-wing staircase, one of nearly 70. This one was named the Staircase of Provence, serving royal apartments.

A gorgeous example of enfilade architecture of the state rooms, and the marquetry of the French oak floors.

It took 6 years to construct the 239.5-foot hall of mirrors, which was constructed under the watchful eye of  Louis XIV from the sketches he drew after having a dream of the room. 

A jewelry armoire in Marie Antoinette's boudoir. 

An interior view of the Great Stables, now the headquarters for the Academy of Equestrian Arts. 

Orange and citrus trees that date the reign of Louis XIV have been tended to on the grounds of Versailles for literal centuries. They are wintered in this orangerie. 

A birdseye view of the orangerie parterre, adjacent to the lake commissioned by Louis XIV under much scrutiny.

The royal family had to leave Versailles in October of 1789, and the ravages of war certainly left their mark on the palace and the gardens. Many of the attempts at repairing and restoring these damages have been successful under the leadership of the Government and the castle's historic museum status. However, some of the more costly items such as the fountains have yet to be put back in service. It's hard to imagine that Versailles was once many times more spectacular than it is today.

If you're a history buff, a francophile, a lover of the series Versailles, or just want to have a stunning coffee table book to add to your collection - look no further. You'll be trapped between pages for days, just like I was. Take a closer look, and get your copy via the amazon link below:

No comments:

Post a Comment