The Hercules Room (sometimes Hercules Drawing Room or Hercules Salon; Fr: salon d'Hercule) is a State Room in the Palace of Versailles. It occupies what was once the site of a chapel. Louis XIV wanted the Hercules Room to be a showcase for a large painting by Paolo Veronese. The architect Robert de Cotte began working on the room in 1710. Work was completed in 1736. The Room has been the scene of many glittering events in the history of Versailles.
State Room[change | change source]
The Hercules Room is a State Room in the Palace of Versailles, France. It is the last of the State Rooms constructed in the palace. The large room is on the ground floor (first floor) of the Palace. It measures 18m x 14m x 45m. A chapel once stood on the site. The Hercules Room connects the royal chapel and the North Wing of the palace with the Grand Apartment of the King. Architect Robert de Cotte started work on the room in 1710. The project was set aside in 1715 when Louis XIV died. Work resumed in 1724. Louis XV hired architect Jacques Gabriel, marble worker Claude-Félix Tarlé, and sculptors Jacques Verberckt and François-Antoine Vassé to complete the room. The room is in the style of the Hall of Mirrors.
Paintings by Veronese[change | change source]
Louis XIV wanted this room to be a showcase for a large painting by Paolo Veronese called Meal at the House of Simon the Pharisee. This picture was painted for the refectory (dining hall) of the Servite Convent in Venice in 1570. In 1664, the Doge gave it to Louis XIV. He wanted the king to support him in a war with the Turks. Veronese's Eliezer and Rebecca hangs above the fireplace on the wall opposite Simon. 
Simon is a large painting. It measures 4.5 m x 9.7 m. The painting was once displayed in the Apollo Gallery of the Louvre. It was hung in the Hercules Room in 1730. It was removed in 1832. It was sent at that time back to the Louvre. In 1961 Simon was returned to the Hercules Room. In 1994 the painting was restored.
Ceiling[change | change source]
The room was completed in 1736 with a painted ceiling called Apotheosis of Hercules. This was painted by François Lemoyne. The painting gave the room its name. The King was pleased with the ceiling. He appointed Lemoyne First Painter. Lemoyne however did not live long enough to enjoy the honor. He committed suicide shortly after the appointment.
The coving is decorated with representations of the Four Princely Virtues: Justice, Fortitude, Constancy, and Courage. These are separated by Cupids pointing to the Labors of Hercules. In the center of the ceiling, Hercules arrives in his chariot on Mount Olympus. Jupiter offers his daughter Hebe in marriage to the hero. Mars and Vulcan observe the fall of demons and vices. Apollo sits on the steps of the Temple of Memory.
Apotheosis is the largest ceiling painted on canvas in Europe—480 square meters of surface area. It depicts some 140 figures representing the gods and goddesses of Olympus. They have gathered for the arrival of Hercules after his successful labors raised him to the rank of God. The piece was seen as a metaphorical allusion to the merits of the French King.
State events held in the Hercules Room[change | change source]
- a full-dress ball was given by Louis XV upon the marriage of his eldest daughter Elisabeth to the Infant of Spain in 1739
- the State Dinner for the Duc de Chartes's wedding in 1769
- the State Dinner given upon the Dauphin's birth in 1782
- the Audience of the Ambassadors for Tippo Sahib, Sultan of Mysore in 1788
- the Presentation of the Deputies of the Estates General to the King on 2 May 1789
Notes[change | change source]
- Verlet, p. 321
- Verlet, p. 322
- Société des amis de Versailles
References[change | change source]
- Constans, Claire (1995), Versailles, Éditions Mahé, ISBN N/A Check
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- Verlet, Pierre (1985), Le château de Versailles, Paris: Librairie Arthème Fayard
- Pérouse de Montclos, Jean-Marie (1991), Versailles, Abbeville Press, ISBN 978-1-55859-228-5