Credits: Khushnum Bhandari / The National.
An exhibition on the Palace of Versailles and the court of Louis XIV has just begun at the Louvre Abu Dhabi. Entitled "Versailles and the World", it brings together some one hundred works of art with the aim of introducing visitors to the impact and global influence of the Sun King's court.
There were artists, philosophers, adventurers, merchants and many others … In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the court of Louis XIV and Marie Antoinette managed to establish itself as a real diplomatic hub, attracting visits of prestigious emissaries from around the world. To shed light on this historic period, the Louvre Abu Dhabi, the UAE branch of the famous Parisian museum with its Jean Nouvel-designed setting, is currently hosting the exhibition “Versailles and the World”. The exhibition brings together more than a hundred works from the collections of the Louvre Abu Dhabi, the Royal Collection Trust of the United Kingdom and 17 French lenders.
Three exhibitions in one?
The visit is divided into three main sections, recognizable by the color of the walls. The first, painted red, is a tribute to the Hall of Mirrors, the highlight of the castle’s diplomatic role, which at the time received envoys from around the world. The tour includes a reconstruction of the marble staircase reserved for the procession of ambassadors, an obligatory passage to the throne room and the Hall of Mirrors. It also highlights the ceremony of June 5, 1662, an unprecedented equestrian parade organized to celebrate the birth of the crown prince, in the presence of representatives of all the greatest kingdoms and empires of the time: Romans, Persians, Turks, Indians and Americans.
The second shows the royal couple’s fascination with China, and more globally. It exhibits numerous vases and other porcelain objects, with motifs very characteristic of the region, as well as works of literature, including a transcription of the Thousand and One Nights, and pearls from the East, held in high esteem by the monarchs of the time.
Finally, the last section is a nod to the exoticism of Versailles. It opens with a painting of a very famous pineapple, the greatest challenge of the gardeners of the time. Indeed, eager to add exotic species to the long list of trees, plants, flowers, fruits and vegetables present in the large park of the castle, they made many attempts and experienced many failures before succeeding in growing the fruit with its particular shape and taste. On the wildlife side, the exhibition also presents many paintings of the rich menagerie of the castle.
The “Versailles and the World” exhibition is on display at the Louvre Abu Dhabi until June 4.