Queen's apartment at Versailles

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The Queen's apartment at Versailles (Fr: Grand appartement de la reine) consists of several rooms: The Queen's Bedchamber; The Queen's Private Cabinets; The Room of the Queen's Gentlemen; The Queen's Antechamber; The Room of the Queen's Guard. The apartment overlooks the Parterre du Midi, and parallels the King's Apartment. When the King's Apartment was abandoned at the end of Louis XIV's reign, the Queens continued to occupy the Queen's Apartment.

The Queen's Bedchamber[change | change source]

Queen's bedchamber
  • The main room in the Queen's Apartment is The Queen's Bedchamber. It was designed for Louis XIV's Queen Maria Theresa of Spain. Three queens occupied this room at different times: Maria Theresa of Austria, Marie Leszczyńska, and Marie Antoinette. After the death of Maria Theresa in 1683, it was occupied successively by two dauphines, Marie-Christine of Bavaria and Marie-Adélaïde of Savoy.
The ceiling dates to the days of Maria Theresa. The paintings by François Boucher and the wooden panels were made for Marie Leszczyńska. This decor was retained for Antoinette. Only the furniture and fireplace were upgraded for the last Queen of France.[1]
The Queens spent most of their time in this room. The Queen slept here. She was sometimes joined by the King. Nineteen royal children were born in the Queen's Bedchamber.[1] In the morning she received visitors. She performed her toilette in this room. This toilette was a public event. Revolutionary rioters stormed the palace in October 1789. Antoinette fled through the little door to the left of the bed. The passage behind the door led to the Queen's Private Cabinets and the King's Apartment.[1]
The palace was not looted during the French Revolution. Items were sold at an auction that lasted a year. The original Schwerdfeger jewel case and the firescreen (both visible in photo above right) were eventually returned to the room. Other items have been replaced with equivalents. The fabric on the walls and bed was rewoven from cartoons of the period. The bed and balustrade (railing) were rebuilt from documents in the archives.[1]
The Queen's Bedchamber took 30 years of work to restore. This involved research and delicate reconstruction. Even the 1745 Baillou and Crescent clock Antoinette placed in the bedchamber has been restored to its place. Other items returned to the room include Sené's chimney piece and the bedspread by Desfarges.[2] Some of the original furniture (already mentioned) has been recovered including the andirons by Boizot and Thomire. Other items have been replaced with facsimiles: armchairs by Tilliard and folding stools taken from the suite of rooms belonging to the Countess d'Artois. The Savonnerie carpet was rewoven from documents.

Gallery: The Queen's Bedchamber[change | change source]

The Queen's Private Cabinets[change | change source]

  • The Queen's Private Cabinets were accessible to Her Majesty through the alcove in the bedchamber. These rooms are situated on a mezzanine overlooking the inner courts. The rooms are poorly lit. The Meridian Cabinet was once the oratory of the Duchesse de Bourgogne. It was redecorated by the Rousseau brothers after Mique's drawings at the birth of the Dauphin in 1781. A table made of petrified wood once belonged to Charles I of England. It was gifted to Antoinette from her mother. The blue Grenadière Cabinet is a reproduction. The paneling decorations in the Gold Cabinet are taken from antiquity. They include tripods, sphinxes, and carytids at the fireplace. This room was once the Duc de Bourgogne's bedchamber. Antoinette placed Oudry's pineapple over the door as an homage to the botanical research done at the Trianon under Louis XV's patronage. Furniture in the rooms include a commode by Riesener (1779) and a harp by Naderman. The commode once belonged to the Comtesse d'Artois. It was brought from Antoinette's bedchamber at Marly.[3]

Gallery: The Meridian Cabinet[change | change source]

The Room of the Queen's Gentlemen[change | change source]

Mantlepiece garniture in the Room of the Queen's Gentlemen
  • The Room of the Queen's Gentlemen (also The Room of the Nobles) is the room in which the Queen received ambassadors. Marie Leszczinska sat beneath a canopy. She held her solemn audiences here as well as her conversational circles for the ladies of the court. It was formerly known as the Queen's Drawing Room. In 1785 it was redecorated by Richard Mique. Marie-Antoinette kept only the paintings on the ceiling. She had the walls covered with apple green damask edged with a wide gold stripe. New furniture was delivered, very modern and sophisticated. Riesener, the Queen’s favourite cabinet-maker followed the latest English fashion in building the commodes and cabinets.[4]
The ceiling paintings by Michel Corneille depict Mercury Spreading his Influence over the Arts. A tapestry portrait of Louis XV by Cozette hangs on the wall with mythological paintings by Francois Boucher. The mantlepiece ornaments show a Turkish influence. The commodes and corner cupboards by Riesner and Gouthière are dated 1786. The overdoors depict Pygmalion and Dibutade by Regnault. The bronze fireplace ornaments are by Gouthière.[5]

The Queen's Antechamber[change | change source]

The royal couple ate in The Queen's Antechamber. This was a public event. Louis XVI and Antoinette sat with their backs to the fireplace. Only the royal family could sit at the table. The duchesses, princesses, and others of great rank were allowed to sit on stools facing the royals. Others of high rank stood.

Louis XIV enjoyed the dinner ritual. Louis XV preferred more private suppers. Louis XVI ate well. Antoinette was bored. A witness reports that: "The Queen sat on the King’s left. They had their backs turned to the fireplace [...] The King ate with a good appetite, but the Queen did not remove her gloves and did not use her serviette (napkin), which was very wrong of her". To ease her boredom, the Queen asked for music at every meal. She had a platform set up for this purpose.[1]

This room was once The Room of the Queen's Guard. In the 1680s, the room was sometimes used as a theatre. Royal virtues are illustrated in the ceiling paintings of ancient heroines by Vignon and Paillet. Portraits of Louis XVI's aunts by Madame Labille-Guiard are part of the decor. Above the doors are works by Madeline de Boulogne dated 1675.[5]

The Room of the Queen's Guard[change | change source]

Marble decoration on the Queen's staircase
  • The marble paneling in The Room of the Queen's Guard was enhanced with gilded bronze designed by Le Brun and executed by Le Gros and Massou. The room was used as a Chapel in 1672 and received its final decoration in 1676-1681. The paintings are by Noël Coypel and were taken from the Jupiter Drawing Room.[6]
At the foot of the Queen’s staircase, also known as the "marble staircase", one penetrated the Queen’s Grand Apartment through this Guard room where, day and night, twelve bodyguards accomplished their service to their sovereign. At Versailles, only the King, the Queen and the Dauphin could have a personal guard composed of soldiers belonging to these elite units, the four companies of the king’s bodyguards. The next grande salle, now called the Salle du Sacre [Coronation Room] was assigned to them, serving as the guard room.
The Queen’s Guard Room is the only room in which the 17th century decor has been preserved: since the Queen had no use for the room, it was not necessary to modernize it. This is why the marble panels characteristic of the first state of the Grand Apartments as well as paintings placed there in 1680, which came from the former Jupiter room, later the War Room can still be seen here.[1]
"The service of the bodyguards, at the château, consisted in guarding the doors of the apartments, taking up arms when the princes passed, man the chapel during mass and escort the dinners of the royal family. They had to know the dukes and peers because when they passed, the sentinel had to stand to attention and stamp the right heel twice. This sentinel also had to open the door and not allow it to be opened; but you can feel that the guard himself was very glad to be exempted from all these duties".[1]
It was here in 1789, at dawn, that rioters demanding bread tried to reach the Queen's apartments. A chambermaid, warned by a bodyguard, bolted the door of the Room of the Queen's Gentlemen and advised the Queen to run away. Retracing their steps, the rioters then tried to penetrate through the King's Guard Room.[1]

Miscellanea[change | change source]

Queens and Dauphines[change | change source]

References[change | change source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 The Queen's Grand Apartment, Chateau de Versailles, http://en.chateauversailles.fr/discover-the-estate/the-palace/the-palace/the-queens-grand-apartment-, retrieved 1-17-2013
  2. Constans, Claire (1994), Versailles, Mahé, p. 48
  3. Constans, Claire (1994), Versailles, Mahé, pp. 50-51
  4. The Queen's Grand Apartment, Chateau de Versailles, http://en.chateauversailles.fr/discover-the-estate/the-palace/the-palace/the-queens-grand-apartment-, retrieved 1-17-2013
  5. 5.0 5.1 Constans, p. 52
  6. Constans, p. 55