Versailles: Treasures from the Palace is now exclusively on display at the National Gallery of Australia and it truly is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, offering a glimpse into the decadence and richness of this period in French history.
The show-stopping exhibition embodies the opulence, luxury and beauty of such a central era – bringing to life the reign of three indulgent kings; Louis XIV, XV, XVI, their lovers and queens, and arguably one of the most iconic individuals: Marie Antoinette.
Boasting a collection of over 130 treasures, ranging from paintings, intricate tapestries, gilded furniture items, monumental statues and other objects from the royal gardens and personal items from Louis XIV to Marie Antoinette, Versailles is the greatest cultural experience of the summer that you must check out!
Highlight pieces include works such as the marble bust of Louis XIV, the monumental Gobelins tapestries, Dauphin’s fine writing desk, two candelabra from the Hall of Mirrors (as the Versailles Palace insisted one would simply not be enough!) and Marie Antoinette’s handcrafted chair and harp.
But the star of the exhibition is likely to be Latona and Her Children, a massive two-metre, 1.5-tonne marble statute from the main fountain at the palace. Latona is showcased unaccompanied in a room surrounded by a high-tech multimedia and soundscape display recreating the extravagant world of Versailles.
NGA director Gerard Vaughn’s goal was to help the audience understand what her life was like at Versailles. The exhibit creates a holistic experience of being transported to the Versailles Fountain rather than bringing Latona as an art object to just be simply viewed in another room.
To enhance the already sumptuous experience, the NGA has added sensory elements to the exhibition. Orchestral music from the day has been sourced, as Louis XIV had his own composer and a full orchestra on hand at all times, and is sounded through many of the exhibition rooms.
The gallery even commissioned an actual French perfumer to create a scent, with notes of orange blossom (Louis XIV’s favourite) to incorporate the fragrance through the exhibit, further enriching the immersive nature of the Versailles exhibition experience.
Every object tells a story evoking the lives, loves, tastes and ideas of the kings, queens, mistresses and courtiers who lived at Versailles through so many great moments in French history.
You can book tickets to Versailles: Treasures from the Palace online via the NGA/Ticketek website.
The exhibition will run at the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra until 17 April 2017.