Exhibition | Parties and Entertainment at Court

Posted in exhibitions by Caitlin Smits on February 16, 2016


Charles-Nicolas Cochin the Younger, Le bal des if (The Yew Tree Ball), etching. Masked ball held on the night of 25–26 February 1745 in the Great Gallery at Versailles, to celebrate the marriage of Louis Dauphin of France (father of Louis XVI) and Maria Theresa, Infanta of Spain (Wikimedia Commons).

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Opening this fall at Versailles:

Parties and Entertainment at Court / Fêtes et divertissements à la Cour
Château de Versailles, November 2016 — March 2017

As the political monarch he was, King Louis XIV took “grand entertainment” to the height of its magnificence, making Versailles a venue for celebrations and shows that were ever more grandiose, extraordinary and fantastical. With his eye for human psychology, he understood that the political framework he had forged demanded this “society of pleasures, which gives the people of the Court an honest sort of familiarity with (the sovereign), and touches and delights them more than can be said.” Everyday life at the French Court needed many forms of entertainment. The extraordinary character of royal events was intended to astonish the Court, the kingdom and Europe. Each of his successors, in accordance with their tastes and changes in fashion, preserved this tradition of splendour and creativity in entertainment. The exhibition aims to present the extraordinary variety of entertainment put on at the Court of Versailles, including hunting, shows, comedies, operas, concerts and individual music playing, walks, outdoor games and sport, other games, fires and illuminations, over a fairly long period stretching from Louis XIV to the Revolution. The approach is not designed to be an exhaustive one, but one that shares the feelings of the times through a choice of major works with plenty to delight the eyes and imagination. The curators have relied on scientific expertise in each of these domains.

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