Enfilade

Exhibition | Louis XV: Passions of a King

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on October 6, 2022

Opening this month at Versailles:

Louis XV: Passions of a King / Passion d’un roi
Château de Versailles, 18 October 2022 — 19 February 2023

Curated by Yves Carlier and Hélène Delalex

For the 300th anniversary of King Louis XV’s coronation, Palace of Versailles is paying homage with an exceptional exhibition. Through more than 400 works, visitors can discover Louis XV (1710–1774) beyond his function as monarch, learning more about his passions, his family life, and his influence on the arts of his time.

Born in 1710 in Versailles, Louis XV was the son of the Duke of Burgundy and Marie-Adélaïde of Savoy, as well as the great-grandson of Louis XIV. Heir apparent after the death of his father, he became king at the tender age of five after the death of the Sun King on 1 September 1715.

A Private Man

The exhibition opens with an introduction to Louis XV as a man, looking back on his relations with his family and his entourage. His childhood, marked by grief, contrasts with his later life with his large family, where he delighted in his role as a father. Women also occupied a central place in the King’s life, such as his wife Marie Leszczynska, not to mention his many mistresses (some of whom made their mark on the period). The exhibition also explores Louis XV’s discreet, melancholy nature, a man who preferred the intimacy of his private apartments. There, he received his inner circle, who enjoyed his every confidence.

The King’s Tastes and Passions

The tour continues with the Louis XV’s passion for sciences, botany, and hunting, as well as his love of buildings, and the influence of all these fields on his reign. His curiosity and insatiable thirst for knowledge drove him to fund long sea voyages, transform Trianon into a garden full of botanical experiments, commission cutting-edge scientific tools, and order the mapping of the kingdom.

Louis XV and the Arts of His Time

The final section of the exhibition shows how the arts flourished during the reign of the ‘Well-Beloved’ (Bien-Aimé). Multiple masterpieces of rococo art introduced the public to the foundations of this style, which, free of symmetry and formal rules, shook up artistic creation in the 18th century.

Meet the Favourites

For this exhibition, the apartment of Madame de Pompadour, as well as that of Madame du Barry, freshly restored after eighteen months of work, will be opened to the public for guided tours, offering a unique experience at the heart of Louis XV’s private Versailles.

The exhibition is curated by Yves Carlier, Chief Heritage Curator at the Musée National des Châteaux de Versailles et de Trianon; and Hélène Delalex, Heritage Curator at the Musée National des Châteaux de Versailles et de Trianon.

Yves Carlier and Hélène Delalex, eds., Louis XV: Passion d’un roi (Château de Versailles / In Fine éditions d’art, 2022), 496 pages, ISBN: 978-2382030769, 49€.

S O M M A I R E

Introduction
Louis XV

L’Homme Privé
Une enfance de cimetière. Louis XV et la mort
Louis XV aux Tuileries, 1715–1722
1722, le retour à Versailles
Le sacre de Louis XV
Le mariage de Louis XV
Louis XV et ses enfants
Amis et amies du roi : les intimes
Les sœurs Mailly-Nesle ou la guerre des Nattier
Madame de Pompadour : l’amie nécessaire
Jeanne du Barry et le roi : une conspiration du silence
Les soupers des cabinets
Louis XV et la religion
Le Parc aux Cerfs : mythe révolutionnaire ou réalité historique ?
L’attentat de Damiens

Gôuts et Passions du Roi
L’esprit des livres : les bibliothèques personnelles de Louis XV
Louis XV, les livres et la reliure : la naissance de la bibliophilie moderne ?
Les expériences d’électricité sous le règne de Louis XV : un succès foudroyant
Le cabinet de Physique et d’Optique de Louis XV au château de La Muette 222
Louis XV « dans son particulier » : les tours du roi
Louis XV et la chasse
Louis XV et le théâtre
Louis XV et l’architecture

Les Arts sous le Règne de Louis XV
Rocaille : la forme et la force
Pour un art de cour ? Louis XV face aux arts de son temps
Boîtes et tabatières à la cour de France sous Louis XV
La Saxe en or moulu. Le goût pour les porcelaines de Meissen montées à la cour de Louis XV
L’importance des Gobelins et de la Savonnerie
Louis XV et la manufacture de porcelaine de Vincennes-Sèvres
Louis XV : une peinture pour le quotidien
Louis XV et la sculpture
La marquise de Pompadour et les arts : une « Apologie du luxe »
Madame Du Barry à la cour : l’affirmation d’un goût
Le Roi se meurt
« Qui nous délivrera de Louis XV et de son perpétuel recommencement ? » Le retour des lignes rocaille dans les arts décoratifs français du XIXe siècle

Bibliographie

 

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