Over the Christmas holidays, my family and I spent a few days in Canberra; we had arranged to visit the Versailles Exhibition. Some months previously, I had been watching Season 1 of the series Versailles and have been thoroughly enjoying it, so I jumped at the opportunity to catch a first-hand glimpse of what life was like within the palace walls (who knows how long it will be until I get to see the place in its entirety?)
The opulence struck me immediately, which I suppose was always its original intent. A bust and various portraits of King Louis were just some examples of his self-indulgence (after all he did call himself the ‘sun king’). Despite the fact that on a personal level, the style of that period is not to my liking, I did not fail to appreciate the craftsmanship and level of detail that were involved in the objects on display.
There are numerous paintings, including family portraits and pictures depicting scenes of the exterior of the palace throughout its various stages. There are also various items of furniture, as well as tapestries and rugs – some of which had never been used. The exhibition does not neglect the palace grounds, for on display are various sculptures and water features, including sculptures once belonging in the children’s garden depicting animals from Aesop’s fables.
I spent the longest amount of time in the last room of the display; the room showing items that once belonged to Marie Antoinette. I had learnt back in High School about Marie Antoinette and the French Revolution, read A Tale of Two Cities (and I always, always, always cry at the end of the movie with Dirk Bogarde) and could understand why the people rebelled. However, it was not until I had seen all these items first hand (which are only just a small amount of items coming from the palace of Versailles) that I understood it better. I don’t blame the people for having a revolution, yet at the same time seeing that the king and queen were living in some kind of bubble. It was a situation that could hardly be sustainable.
Have you visited the Versailles exhibition? Have you visited the palace itself? What did you think? Have you had a better understanding on a certain period in history once you have seen some of it yourself? What did you do over the Christmas holidays?
Header image courtesy Ticketek, other images by Debbie Johansson.