Japan is most certainly the country, outside France, where the figure of Marie-Antoinette is most popular, notably thanks to the character imagined by rieko Ikeda in her manga The rose of Versailles. The Palace of Versailles and Nippon Television have joined forces to propose an exhibition of almost four months dedicated to this iconic figure in French history.
Through a large number of works of art from the Versailles collections – paintings furnishings, objets d’art, drawings and engravings – as well as loans from other public and private collections in France and abroad, the exhibition will provide, for the very first time in Japan, a wide-ranging evocation of the life of Marie-Antoinette, from her youth in Vienna through to her tragic end.
Portraits of the Queen and members of the royal family by the Court’s finest portrait artists – and in particular François-Hubert Drouais, Louis Michel Vanloo and Joseph Siffred Duplessis – will familiarise visitors with the people among whom Marie-Antoinette lived in France: King Louis XV, the grand-father of Louis XVI, her brothers in law, the Counts of Provence and Artois… And also artist Élisabeth-Louise Vigée-Lebrun who captured the queen’s essence in her works, won her trust and left us some of the finest (official and more intimate) portraits of Marie-Antoinette.
The Queen’s own tastes will also feature prominently in the exhibition. Assisted by the royal administration of the Crown Furniture Inventory, Marie-Antoinette gathered some of the finest craftsmen around her, such as cabinet-maker Jean Henri Riesener, joiner Georges Jacob or bronze-maker Pierre-Philippe Thomire, to design the precious furnishings or objects for the sumptuous, refined decor she liked to surround herself with. The variety of tableware designed by the Sèvres Royal Porcelain Works are featured, and more particularly the “Japan” service inspired by Imari porcelain or the famous “Pearls and Cornflower” dinner service made for Trianon.
The most original and spectacular feature of the exhibition will be its presentation of the Queen’s Private Apartment, laid out from 1782 onwards on the ground floor on the Marble Courtyard. The bedroom and bathroom will be fitted out with a large part of their furnishings, while the stucco library which has now disappeared will be reproduced in 3D.
This exhibition of almost 150 works provides an insight, for the first time in Japan on such a scale, into the riches and innovation that marked the creations inspired by Marie-Antoinette.
With the support of Nippon Television Network