Galerie des Glaces, Versailles, of course!

Ok so let’s continue on my presentation of my beloved dearest Versailles. If new to my blog, I used to lived there almost 10 years ,work took me out west of France but still many memories there and glad to be able to visit often.

I have written on it in several posts in parts, but I think it deserves a post of its own. What do you think? Anyway, let me tell you a bit more on the Galeries des Glaces or Gallery of Mirrors of the Palace/museum of Versailles.

The Gallery of Mirrors or Grand Galerie is a large baroque-style gallery located in the Palace of Versailles, which is one of the emblematic pieces. Conceived and built from 1678 to 1684 by the architect Jules Hardouin-Mansart, it was then intended to illustrate the power of the absolute monarch Louis XIV and to dazzle its visitors, by its ornamentation, by its rich iconography and by its original dimensions of   73 meters long, 10.50 meters wide, and covered with 357 mirrors, or 21 mirrors at each of its 17 arches facing 17 windows. Located on the first floor of the central body of the castle, it faces, in the west, the gardens of Versailles, of which it gives a great perspective.

Versailles

Versailles

Several galleries were able to serve as models: that of the Château de Clagny of  Madame de Montespan (favorite of Louis XIV) in Clagny-Glatigny (today one of the eight districts of the City of Versailles) works begin the year even at the site of a terrace ( whose remains can still be seen in the attic above the vaults) overlooking the west facade of the castle of Louis XIII which connected the two wings housing the large apartments to that built to the north and south of it in order to wrap it around it As a result of the construction of this gallery, no façade of the old castle will give to the park or the garden.

versailles

The painter and decorator Charles Le Brun began the decoration in 1680. The gallery was inaugurated in 1684. The Gallery of Mirrors is located in the alignment of the green carpet, between the halls of War and Peace, the latter giving respectively access to the Grand apartments of the king and Queen. The mirrors were made at the glass manufacturer La Glacerie south of Cherbourg. The 17 arched windows give rise to as many arcades adorned with mirrors held by chopsticks and chiseled bronze cabochons. The arcades are surmounted alternately by a head of Apollo and the remains of the lion of Nemea. The ceiling is decorated with nearly 1 000 m2 of paintings from the atelier of Charles Le Brun illustrating the achievements of the reign of Louis XIV, staging the king himself in 30 large compositions. The furniture and numerous statues that originally decorated it were dispersed at the French revolution.

versailles

The capitals of the marble pilasters of Rance on white marble background are adorned with a fleur de Lys and Gallic roosters. The Golden Bronze trophies, which adorn the piers in Campan’s green marble, were chiselled. The eight busts of Roman emperors, in marble and porphyry, accompanied eight statues, including seven ancients, representing Bacchus, Venus (Venus of Arles and Troas), Urany, Hermes, Nemesis and Diane of Versailles. The latter, moved to the Louvre in 1798, was replaced by a Diane sculpted for the gardens of the Château de Marly until the restoration of the Gallery of Mirrors of 2004-2007 where she is in turn replaced by a casting of the Diane de Versailles in restored marble.

Versailles

During the reign of Louis XIV, the gallery is essentially a place of passage, the King preferring to receive the guests of prestige in the lounges of the Grand apartments. However, several hearings were granted, including the one at the Doge of Genoa in 1685, the ambassadors of Siam in 1686 and those of the Shah of Persia in 1715. Louis XV also received the Embassy of King Mahmud I of Turkey in 1742. Anecdotally, the gallery saw the arrest of the great chaplain of France the imprudent Cardinal of Rohan in 1785, before his incarceration in the Bastille (epilogue of the Affair of the Queen’s necklace).

The Gallery of Mirrors was also part of major festivities such as the marriage of the future dolphin Louis XVI with Marie-Antoinette of Austria in 1770, a ball given by Napoleon III in honor of Queen Victoria on August 25, 1855;   reception by General de Gaulle of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy and his wife, that given in the honor of the last Shah of Iran Mohammad Reza Pahlavi by Valéry Giscard d’Estaing in 1974 or the invitation of representatives of the “G7” by President François Mitterrand from 4-6 June 1982.

It is symbolically in the Gallery of Mirrors, in reference to the wars and annexations led by Louis XIV in Germany that illustrate the painted decorations (notably the passage of the Rhine, 1672), which proclaimed the creation of the German Empire after the defeat French in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870. The accession to the new imperial throne of his first emperor, William I, took place on January 18, 1871, before the assembly of the German princes and the Chancellor Otto von Bismarck, a true political architect of the Empire.  In this spirit of revenge, it was in the Gallery of Mirrors that was signed between the Allies and representatives of the young German democracy, the Treaty of Versailles ending WWI, and redrawing the borders of Europe and the colonies,on June 28, 1919. It was the humiliation of the “diktat of Versailles”, which was one of Adolf Hitler’s political tools for his rise to power against the Democrats of the Weimar Republic, and the rearming of Nazi Germany to crush France in 1940.

The Gallery of Mirrors has undergone many restorations. It was abandoned shortly after the French Revolution, rapidly degrading. king Louis XVIII reconditioned it from 1814-1815. The mirrors are polished and retinnted in 1820. The paints are cleaned and restored between 1825 and 1832, then once again between 1949 and 1952. In 1980, the gallery was refurnished. A new program of restoration of the Gallery of Mirrors, begun in July 2004 finished 2012. 70% of the mirrors are from the period, 30% poorly restored in the 19C have been replaced by old mirrors.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are

Chateau de Versailles on the Gallery of Mirrors

Chateau de Versailles on collections museum

Chateau de Versailles on the characters of its history

Gallery description in French on frescoes

Enjoy the awesome beauty of the most beautiful castle/Museum in the world; royal Versailles indeed.

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

2 Comments to “Galerie des Glaces, Versailles, of course!”

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