16. April - 29. Juli 2018 Metropolitan Museum of Art


Dress (grande robe à la française). French, 1775–85. Silk brocade (woven 1760s), H. from neck to train 59 7/8 in. (152 cm). The Kyoto Costume Institute (AC11075 2004-2AB) © The Kyoto Costume Institute, photo by Takashi Hatakeyama
Fan with a View of the Château de Versailles, ca. 1780–85. Single paper leaf, painted in gouache over engraving, with gilt paper trim; sticks and guards: carved and pierced ivory, decorated with gilding, gouache, and mother-of-pearl, 6 1/4 x 12 1/4 in. (16 x 31 cm). City of Versailles, Musée Lambinet, (95.15.1) © Ville de Versailles, Musée Lambinet, photo by Christophe Fouin
Charles-Gabriel Sauvage, called Lemire père (French, 1741–1827). Figure of Louis XVI and Benjamin Franklin, 1780–85. Porcelain, 12 3/4 x 9 1/2 x 6 in.
(32.4 x 24.1 x 15.2 cm). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Gift of William H. Huntington, 1883 (83.2.260)
Charles Cozette (French, 1713–1797). Folding Screen with Views of the Château de Versailles from the Avenue de Paris and the Cour du Cheval Blanc at the Château de Fontainebleau, ca. 1768–70. Wood, oil on canvas, painted leather, 79 1/2 x 153 1/8 in. (202 x 389 cm). Collection of Monsieur and Madame Dominique Mégret, Paris. Photo by F. Doury

Versailles experienced by 17th- and 18th-Century Visitors

The palace of Versailles has attracted travellers since it was transformed under the direction of the Sun King, Louis XIV (1638–1715), from a simple hunting lodge into one of the most magnificent public courts of Europe. French and foreign travellers, royalty, dignitaries and ambassadors, artists, musicians, writers and philosophers, scientists, grand tourists and day-trippers alike, all flocked to the majestic royal palace surrounded by its extensive formal gardens.

From April 16 to July 29, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Visitors to Versailles (1682–1789) will track these many travellers from 1682, when Louis XIV moved his court to Versailles, up to 1789, when Louis XVI (1774–1792) and the royal family were forced to leave the palace and return to Paris. 

Through paintings and portraits, furniture, tapestries, carpets, costumes and uniforms, porcelain, gold boxes, sculpture, arms and armor, engravings, and guidebooks, the exhibition will illustrate what the visitors encountered at court, what kind of welcome and access to the palace they received, and, most importantly, what they saw and what impressions, gifts, and souvenirs they took home with them. 

The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue published by The Metropolitan Museum of Art and distributed by Yale University Press. The exhibition will also feature a unique audio experience that will evoke and bring to life what it was like to visit the palace during the ancien régime, when Versailles was the seat of the court.

A series of events and performances will complement the exhibition. On April 21, the early–music vocal group TENET and the contemporary Metropolis Ensemble will present a program with two world premieres by cellist Timo Andres and musician Caroline Shaw. Opera Lafayette will perform Opera in Versailles on May 3. Master chef and food writer Yotam Ottolenghi will create a Versailles-themed menu of dinner and desserts on June 19 and 20.

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