Hall of Mirrors (Palace of Versailles)


Hall of Mirrors (Palace of Versailles)

The "galerie des glaces" or Hall of Mirrors is the central gallery of the Palace of Versailles and is one of the most famous rooms in the world.

As the principal and most remarkable feature of King Louis XIV of France’s third building campaign of the Palace of Versailles (1678-1684), construction of the Hall of Mirrors began in 1678 (Kimball, 1940; Nolhac, 1901; 1925; Marie, 1968; 1977; Verlet , 1985). To provide for the Hall of Mirrors as well as the "salon de la guerre" and the "salon de la paix", which connect the "grand appartement du roi" with the grand "appartement de la reine", architect Jules Hardouin-Mansart appropriated three rooms from each apartment as well as the terrace that separated the two apartments (Marie, 1968; 1977l Verlet, 1985a). The principal feature of this famous hall is the seventeen mirror-clad arches that reflect the seventeen arcaded windows that overlook the gardens. Each arch contains twenty-one mirrors with a total complement of 357 used in the decoration of the "galerie des glaces" (Verlet, 1985a). The arches themselves are fixed between marble pilasters whose capitals depict the symbols of France.Fact|date=July 2008 These gilded bronze capitals include the fleur-de-lys and the Gallic cockerel or rooster. Many of the other attributes of the Hall of Mirrors were lost to war for financial purposes, such as the silver table pieces and "guéridons" were melted by order of Louis XIV in 1689 to finance the War of the League of Augsburg (Dangeau, 1854-6; Josephson, 1926; "Mercure Galant", 1682; Cosnac, 1984; Verlet, 1985a).

Construction

In the 17th century, mirrors were among the most expensive items to possess and at the time, the Venetian Republic held the monopoly on the manufacture of mirrors. In order to maintain the integrity of his philosophy of mercantilism, which required that all items used in the decoration of Versailles be made in France, Jean-Baptiste Colbert enticed several workers from Venice to make mirrors at the Gobelins Factory. The Gobelins, which still exist today, was nationalized in the 1660s by Colbert for the express purpose of making furniture and other decorative items for Versailles and other royal residences. According to legend, in order to keep its monopoly, the government of the Venetian Republic sent agents to France to poison the workers whom Colbert had brought to France (Verlet, 1985a). The Hall of Mirrors' technological innovation which made it such an exceptional space during its day was the high temperature melting process of glass which was utilized to construct the mirrors. This was the first time this process had been done adding to its significance.Fact|date=July 2008

The Hall of Mirrors' dimensions are 73.0 m × 10.5 m × 12.3 m (239.5 ft × 34.4 ft × 40.4 ft) and is flanked by the "salon de la guerre" (north) and the "salon de la paix" (south). Construction on the "galerie" and its two salons continued until 1684, at which time it was pressed into use for court and state functions. The ceiling decoration is dedicated to the political policies and military victories of Louis XIV. The central panel of the ceiling, "Le roi governe par lui-même" ("The king governs alone") alludes to the establishment of the personal reign of Louis XIV in 1661. The present decorative schema represents the last of three that were presented to Louis XIV. The original decorative plan was to have depicted the exploits of Apollo, being consistent with the imagery associated with the Sun-King, Louis XIV. However, when the king learned that his brother, Philippe de France, "duc d'Orléans", had commissioned Pierre Mignard to decorate the ceiling of the "grande galerie" of his brother’s residence at Château de Saint-Cloud, Louis XIV rejected the plan. The next decorative plan was one in which the exploits of Hercules — as allegories to the actions of Louis XIV — were to be depicted. Again, as with the first plan, the Hercules theme was rejected by the king. The final plan represents military victories of Louis XIV starting with the Treaty of the Pyrenees (1659) to the Treaty of Nijmegen (1678-1679). In a departure from the decoration of the ceilings in the "grand appartement du roi", LeBrun has depicted Louis XIV directly, and has ceased to refer to the king in allegorical guises. In this way, themes such as good governance and military prowess are rendered with Louis XIV himself as the key figure (Montagu, 1992; Marie, 1972; Verlet, 1985a).

Functions of the Hall

During the 17th century, the Hall of Mirrors was used daily by Louis XIV when he walked from his private apartment to the chapel. At this time, courtiers assembled to watch the king and members of the royal family pass, and might make a particular request by intoning: “Sire, Marly?” (Solnon, 1987). This was the manner in which one was able to obtain a much sought-after invitation to one of the king’s house parties at Marly-le-Roi, the villa Louis XIV built north of Versailles on the route to Saint-Germain-en-Laye. However, of all the events that transpired in this room during the reign of Louis XIV, the Siamese Embassy of 1685-1686 must be cited as the most opulent (Bluche, 1986; Cruysse, 1991; Dangeau, 1854-6; "Mercure Galant", 1686). At this time, the "galerie des glaces" and the "grands appartements" were still appointed with silver furniture. In February 1715, Louis XIV held his last embassy in the "galerie des glaces", one in which he received Mehemet Reza Bey, ambassador of the Shah of Persia (Bluche, 1986).

In the successive reigns of Louis XV and Louis XVI, the Hall of Mirrors continued to serve for family and court functions. Embassies, births, and marriages were fêted in this room; however, perhaps the most celebrated event of the 18th century occurred on 25 February 1745: the celebrated "bal des Ifs" (Ball of the Yew Trees). It was during this costume ball that Louis XV, who was dressed as a yew tree, met Jeanne-Antoinette Poisson d'Étiolles, who was costumed as Diana, goddess of the hunt. Jeanne-Antoinette, who became Louis XV’s mistress, is better known to history as the Marquise de Pompadour (Marie, 1984; Nolhac, 1926).

In the 19th century, at the conclusion of the Franco-Prussian War, the Prussian king, William I, was declared German emperor — thus establishing the (second) German Empire — on 18 January 1871 in the Hall of Mirrors by Bismarck and the victorious German princes and lords. This was seen as a victory with heavy symbolism for the Germans and a stinging insult for the defeated French.Fact|date=July 2008

French prime minister Clemenceau chose the Hall of Mirrors to sign the Treaty of Versailles that ended World War I on 28 June 1919.

The Hall of Mirrors is still pressed into service for state occasions of the Fifth Republic, such as receptions for visiting heads of state.

Gallery

ources

"Books"

cite book
last =* Bluche, François
title =Louis XIV
volume =
publisher =Paris: Arthème Fayard
year =1986
cite book
last =* Bluche, François
title =Dictionnaire du Grand Siècle
volume =
publisher =Paris: Arthème Fayard
year =1991
cite book
last =* Combes, sieur de
title =Explication historique de ce qu'il y a de plus remarquable dans la maison royale de Versailles
volume =
publisher =Paris: C. Nego
year =1681
cite book
last =* Cosnac, Gabriel-Jules, comte de
title =Mémoires du marquis de Sourches sur le règne de Louis XIV
volume =
publisher =Paris: Librairie Hachette et Cie
year =1984
cite book
last =* Cruysse, Dirk Van der
title =Louis XIV et le Siam
volume =
publisher =Paris: Arthème Fayard
year =1991
cite book
last =* Dangeau, marquis de
title =Journal avec les additions inedites du duc de Saint-Simon
volume =vol. 3. (1689-1692)
publisher =Paris: Firmin Didot Freres
year =1854
cite book
last =* Félibien, André
title =La description du château de Versailles, de ses peintures, et des autres ouvrags fait pour le roy
volume =
publisher =Paris: Antoine Vilette
year =1694
cite book
last =* Félibien, Jean-François
title =Description sommaire de Versailles ancienne et nouvelle
volume =
publisher =Paris: A. Chrétien
year =1703
cite book
last =* Marie, Alfred and Jeanne
title =Mansart à Versailles
volume =
publisher =Paris: Editions Jacques Freal
year =1972
cite book
last =* Monicart, Jean-Baptiste de
title =Versailles immortalisé
volume =
publisher =Paris: E. Ganeau
year =1720
cite book
last =* Nolhac, Pierre de
title =Versailles
volume =
publisher =Paris: A. Morancé
year =1929
cite book
last =* Nolhac, Pierre de
title =Versailles et la cour de France: L'Art à Versailles
volume =
publisher =Paris: Louis Conard
year =1930
cite book
last =* Nolhac, Pierre de
title =La Résurrection de Versailles, souvenirs d'un conservateur, 1887-1920
volume =
publisher =Paris: Plon
year =1937
cite book
last =* Piganiol de la Force, Jean-Aymar
title =Nouvelle description des châteaux et parcs de Versailles et Marly
volume =
publisher =Paris: Chez Florentin de la lune
year =1701
cite book
last =* Solnon, Jean-François
title =La Cour de France
volume =
publisher =Paris: Fayard
year =1987
cite book
last =* Solnon, Jean-François
title =Versailles
volume =
publisher =Paris: Éditions du Rocher
year =1997
cite book
last =* Verlet, Pierre
title =Le mobilier royal Français
volume =
publisher =Paris
year =1945
cite book
last =* Verlet, Pierre
title =Le château de Versailles
volume =
publisher =Paris: Librairie Arthème Fayard
date =1985a

"Journals"

Citation
last =* Jacquiot, Joseph
title =Remarques critiques sur les inscriptions de la galerie de Versailles, par Boileau-Despéaux
journal =Colloque de Versailles
volume =
date =1985
pages =
Citation
last =* Jestaz, Bertrand
title =Jules Hardouin-Mansart et ses dessinateurs
journal =Colloque de Versailles
volume =
date =1985
pages =
Citation
last =* Josephson, Ragnar
title =Relation de la visite de Nicodème Tessin à Marly, Versailles, Rueil, et St-Cloud en 1687
journal =Revue de l'Histoire de Versailles
volume =
date =1926)
pages =150-67, 274-300
Citation
last =* Kimball, Fiske
title =Mansart and LeBrun and the Genesis of the Grand Galerie de Versailles
journal =The Art Bulletin
volume =22
date =March 1940
pages =1-6
Citation
last =* Langner, Johannes
title =Le Brun interprête de l'histoire de Louis XIV: à propos d'un tableau de la Galerie des Glaces à Versailles
journal =Formes
volume =Spring
date =1982
pages =21-26
Citation
last =
title =
journal =* Mercure galant
volume =
date =December 1682; September 1686; December 1686
pages =
Citation
last =* Montagu, Jenifer
title =Le Brun's Early Designs for the Grand Galerie: some comments on the drawings
journal =Gazette des Beaux-Arts
volume =6 pér., tome 120
date =November 1992
pages =195-206
Citation
last =* Montagu, Jenifer
title =The Early Ceiling Decorations of Charles Le Brun
journal =The Burlington Magazine
volume =CV, no. 725
date =August 1963
pages =365-408
Citation
last =* Montagu, Jenifer
title =The Painted Enigma and French Seventeenth-century Art
journal =Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes
volume =vol. 31
date =1968
pages =307-335
Citation
last =* Nolhac, Pierre de
title =La construction de Versailles de Le Vau
journal =Revue de l'Histoire de Versailles
volume =
date =1899
pages =161-171
Citation
last =* Sabatier, Gérard
title =Versailles, ou le sens perdu, manière de montrer la galerie des glaces aux 17e et 18e siècles
journal =Colloque de Versailles
volume =
date =1985
pages =
Citation
last =* Verlet, Pierre
title =Les guéridons de la Galerie des Glaces
journal =Bulletin de la société de l'art français
volume =
date =1985b
pages =129-135


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