Enfilade

Exhibition | Versailles: Treasures from the Palace

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on July 20, 2016

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Hall of Mirrors (Galerie des Glaces), 1678–84
(Château de Versailles)

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Press release (18 July 2016) from the NGA:

Versailles: Treasures from the Palace
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 9 December 2016 — 17 April 2017

The NGA has revealed details of the sumptuous treasures from the Palace of Versailles, which will be on show in Canberra this December. Versailles: Treasures from the Palace is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see and experience a mesmerising period in French history in Australia. For the first time ever, the treasures will travel from France to entice visitors into a world of power, passion and luxury through this epic exhibition. More than 130 paintings, intricate tapestries, gilded furniture, monumental statues and other objects from the Royal gardens, and personal items from Louis XIV to Marie-Antoinette, will bring to life the reigns of three kings, their queens and mistresses in a fascinating and tumultuous period of French history. The exhibition will celebrate the lives, loves, and passions of the people of Versailles through a full program of activities including music performances, children’s programs, and public events.

François Hubert Drouais, The Sourches family 1756, oil on canvas (Château de Versailles, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Christophe Fouin)

François Hubert Drouais, The Sourches Family (‘Le Concert Champêtre’), 1756, oil on canvas (Château de Versailles, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Christophe Fouin)

“We are delighted to bring the grandeur of the culture of Versailles exclusively to Canberra and make it possible for all Australians to access and appreciate the social, political and cultural aspects of this unique phenomenon. If ever absolute power can be expressed through unbridled opulence, this is it,” said Gerard Vaughan, NGA Director.

“Along with astonishing treasures, like the marble bust of Louis XIV, or the glamorous formal portrait of Marie- Antoinette, we are bringing to Australia the entire 1.5 tonne statue of Latona and Her Children from one of the main fountains of the Palace of Versailles,” said Dr Vaughan. “The authenticity of this cultural experience will leave a lasting imprint on all our visitors.”

The exhibition contrasts small personal items, such as the precious golden reliquary which belonged to Louis XIV’s mother, or Marie-Antoinette’s hand-crafted chair and harp, with huge works including six-metre tapestries from the most important Gobelins series ever produced for Louis XIV, and a monumental conversation piece of the Sourches family which requires individual freight.

“Versailles is at the heart of French cultural expression as much as the NGA is the heart of Australian visual expression and we are very excited to bring this historic exhibition to Australia,” said Catherine Pégard, President of the Public Establishment of the Palace, Museum and National Estate of Versailles.

“The opportunity to send such important French treasures has been made possible because of the major restoration program at Versailles, and we are thrilled to see that the outcome of the work will be the enjoyment of thousands of Australians,” said Christophe Lecourtier, Ambassador of France to Australia.

“The NGA is bringing to Canberra yet another spectacular show, which will attract people from all over the country and the world this summer,” said Andrew Barr, ACT Chief Minister. “These shows are important to the local tourism sector and I’m confident that this show will be another success for the Gallery.”

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