Exhibition | Visitors to Versailles, 1682–1789

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on October 14, 2017

Press release for the exhibition:

Visiteurs de Versailles, 1682–1789
Château de Versailles, 24 October 2017 — 25 February 2018
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 16 April — 29 July 2018

Curated by Bertrand Rondot and Daniëlle Kisluk-Grosheide

With nearly 10 million visitors per year, Versailles is one of the most visited historic sites in the world. The palace and gardens of Versailles have attracted visitors ever since the small hunting lodge built by Louis XIII was transformed by Louis XIV into one of the most stunning residences in Europe, open to everyone according to the King’s will.

Cosmopolitan Versailles has welcomed French and foreign travellers, princes, ambassadors, artists, writers, and philosophers, architects, scholars, tourists on the ‘Grand Tour’, and day trippers from near and far. While some came to Versailles to see the King or win his favour, others were received officially by the Sovereign in the Palace, a place of intensive diplomatic activity. From the ambassadors of Siam in 1686 to the ambassadors of the Indian Kingdom of Mysore in 1788, representatives from almost every continent came to Versailles. Each visit was an opportunity to discover beautiful national dress and the originality of the gifts visitors brought with them. Gazettes, literary journals, and official memoires bore testimony to the most important visitors and the parties held in their honour.

The exhibition is the first on this subject and will turn the spotlight on these visitors through more than 300 works from the late 17th century to the French Revolution. With portraits and sculptures, court attire, travel guides, tapestries, Sevres and Meissen porcelain, display weapons and snuffboxes, the exhibition will reveal what visitors discovered upon arriving at Versailles, the sort of welcome awaiting them, what they saw and their impressions, the gifts or memories they left with. Visitors today will discover the palace through the eyes of those who have gone before them over the course of history.

Bertrand Rondot, Head Curator at the Palace of Versailles, in charge of furniture and objets d’art
Daniëlle Kisluk-Grosheide, Curator at the European Sculpture and Decorative Arts Department of The Metropolitan Museum of Art

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Note (added 28 October 2017) — Relevant to the exhibition is this collection of essays, which grew out of a 2013 conference:

Caroline zum Kolk, Jean Boutier, Bernd Klesmann, and François Moureau, eds., Voyageurs étrangers à la cour de France, 1589–1789: regards croisés (Rennes: Presses universitaires de Rennes, 2014), 392 pages, ISBN: 978 27535 34834, 22€.

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Note (added 12 April 2018) — The original posting listed the start date for the exhibition at The Met as April 9. More information on the latter venue is available here.


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