After three years of major technical alterations and heritage restoration work, the Palace of Versailles is delighted to be reopening a very important section of the royal residence, which has, over the years, been occupied by key female characters. This event is an opportunity to find out more about or rediscover the women who left their mark on the Palace's history. First of all, Marie-Antoinette, who lived in the Queen’s State Apartment. Then Marie Leszczyńska, who had such a major influence on the art world of the 18th century, is being commemorated in the Dauphine’s Apartments, also recently reopened, on the garden level. Finally, Madame de Maintenon, whose extraordinary life is the subject of an exhibition in the the apartment in which she resided.
THE QUEEN'S STATE APARTMENTS REDISCOVERED
From 16 April 2019, visitors to the Palace will, once again, be able to access the Queen’s State Apartments, which have been closed since January 2016 for technical works required to upgrade the security and safety of the main part of the Palace on the south side. Necessary, large-scale work was undertaken to protect visitors and the collections from the risk of fire. The air-conditioning system was also upgraded to safeguard the artworks from temperature fluctuations and changing humidity levels. These systems now function behind the scenes, out of sight of the public.
While this work was going on, the opportunity was taken to carry out heritage restoration efforts, which were conducted under the supervision of Frédéric Didier, Architect-in-Chief of Historic Monuments, and the teams at the Musée National des Châteaux de Versailles et de Trianon. In addition, the décor of the Queen’s Guard Room has been restored to its former magnificence thanks to the generosity of the American Friends of Versailles and the Société des Amis de Versailles. The spectacular Rococo décor in the Queen’s Bedchamber, too, has regained its original clarity and splendour.
It is therefore a true rediscovery of the Queen’s State Apartments that awaits visitors today.
“THE TASTE OF MARIE LESZCZYNSKA” DISCOVER AN UNKNOWN QUEEN
Discreet and little-known, Marie Leszczyńska is nevertheless the queen who reigned longest at Versailles (more than 42 years). During this period, she had a profound impact on both the layout of the Palace, by creating private apartments, and the art world of the times, through her many commissions from artists and manufacturers.
The exhibition gathers together some fifty paintings and other works of art mostly from the Palace collections, but it also includes several recent acquisitions of great significance for Versailles.
The Dauphine’s Apartment, which is being reopened specially for this exhibition, is not, however, being presented in its historic format. It will be refurbished in 2020, following the restoration of the adjoining Dauphin’s Apartment.
“MADAME DE MAINTENON. IN THE CORRIDORS OF POWER.”
Alongside these rediscoveries, the Palace of Versailles is commemorating the life of Madame de Maintenon, the morganatic wife of Louis XIV, in an exhibition that runs from 16 April to 21 July 2019, in the very apartment in which she lived and which has been restored to its 17th-century glory for the occasion.
The exhibition charts the life of this major figure of the royal court through some sixty artworks and documents.