Exhibition | Coaches from Versailles on View at Arras

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on November 9, 2012

From the exhibition website:

Roulez Carrosses! Le Château de Versailles à Arras
Musée des Beaux-Arts, Arras, 17 March 2012 — 10 November 2013

Curated by Béatrix Saule, Jean-Louis Libourel, and Hélène Delalex

Roulez Carrosses!, the inaugural exhibition of the partnership signed in 2011 between the Château de Versailles, the City of Arras and the Nord-Pas-de-Calais Region, is a landmark event. It is the first French exhibition to be devoted to horse-drawn vehicles. Berlin coaches, royal and imperial carriages from the Versailles collection have all taken the road for Arras, to be admired here until November 2013. The Musée des Beaux-Arts is thus hosting paintings, sculptures, sledges, sedan chairs, horse harnesses and several outstanding carriages such as the coaches of Napoleon I’s marriage procession, Charles X’s coronation coach or the impressive funeral hearse of Louis XVIII. From Louis XIV to the Third Republic, these little-known vehicles will offer a journey through the History of France. Chronologically displayed over 1,000 m², these works are set against a backdrop of innovative scenography combining reconstructions, activities, immersion and multimedia. The exhibition provides an opportunity to discover Versailles and its collections whilst at the same time highlighting the historical links between Arras and the former residence of kings. It will also provide an insight into the operation
and evolution of horse-drawn vehicles.


Béatrix Saule, Director of the Musée National des châteaux de Versailles et de Trianon
Jean-Louis Libourel, Honorary Chief Curator of Heritage
Hélène Delalex, Heritage Conservation Manager at the Château de Versailles

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As Didier Rykner judges in his review for The Art Tribune (24 September 2012) . . .

Sedan Chair for the King’s House Versailles, Musée national des châteaux de Versailles et de Trianon Photo : RMNGP/G. Blot

Even if it is much longer than the usual three-month period, this is a true exhibition, not a lineup of works; it is accompanied by a beautiful scholarly catalogue on a subject which is not often studied; it does not replace the display of the permanent collections as the exhibition rooms occupy the space acquired at the Saint-Vast Abbey; it does not deprive visitors going to the lending museum from seeing major works there since the Musée des carrosses (a rather exaggerated term given the usual presentation conditions) is rarely open to the public; and, above all, it will result in enduring benefits for the coach collection as well as for the Musée des Beaux-Arts itself. . . .

The museum staging by Frédéric Beauclair is very well done. Paintings, sculptures and drawings round out the presentation of the carriages illustrating their use, the way they functioned and the context in which they were produced. Visitors will also discover some little-known works. . . .

The full review is available here»

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Eight short videos accompany the exhibition:

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From the Château de Versailles bookshop:

Béatrix Saule, ed., Roulez Carrosses! Le Château de Versailles à Arras (Paris: Skira Flammarion, 2012), 256 pages, ISBN: 9782081278172, 40€.

Roulez carrosses! is the first exhibition in France devoted to horse-drawn coaches and carriages and, in this case, historical examples, all totally luxurious in every detail and all different: carriages for the outings of the children of Louis XVI, a sumptuous berline for the wedding of Napoleon I, the hearse of Louis XVIII, the coronation coach of Charles X, etc. Other outstanding masterpieces from the collections of Versailles accompany them: a series of paintings by Van der Meulen, major royal portraits, or unique vehicles like these fantasy sledges in which Louis XV and then Marie-Antoinette were pulled over the snow-covered walks of the park of Versailles. This book describes episodes from the political history of the palace, dynastic events and customs of the court, narrated and commented on here by eminent historians. Fans of handsome horse-drawn vehicles will discover the grand coaches for ceremonial occasions – from the “modern coach” invented in the reign of Louis XIV to the coaches for state ceremonies of the presidents of the Republic – along with their technical innovations, the refinement of their accessories and the extreme lavishness of their ornamentation, at a time when the art of French coach-building was at its apogee.

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