Marie-Antoinette ‘s apartments will be exceptionally open to visitors for 2 weeks from June 27, an occasion to enter in the intimacy of the queen…
Several years of restoration
From June 27, 2023, the Palace of Versailles offers the public the opportunity to rediscover a set of rooms among the most secret of the former royal residence: the interior cabinets of the Queen. The result of several years of research and restoration has now made it possible to rediscover the coherence and richness of an eminently feminine space spread over two floors of the Château.
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One of the most precious decorations of the Castle
Behind the gilded paneling and silk hangings of Marie-Antoinette ‘s apartments hides, on two floors, a set of rooms of modest dimensions and whose windows overlook small interior courtyards. This is the Queen’s small apartment, which Marie-Antoinette began to furnish from 1774.
The first floor of Marie-Antoinette ‘s apartments includes rooms that were reserved for the use of the sovereign. A cabinet called “ de la Méridienne ” – so named because of the ottoman placed in an alcove lined with face mirrors – was fitted out in 1781 for Marie-Antoinette. This room presents one of the most precious decorations of the Castle, recalling the happiness of the royal couple at the time of the birth of their first son. A long research work carried out by the conservation has allowed the restitution of the last textile state of lilac color in the different shades of green which adorned the room under Marie-Antoinette.
The adjacent library, also recently restored, presents a decor of great finesse, also dating from 1781: three-tone gilding, doors concealed by false bindings and ingenious shelves supported by racks sign this singular piece. The restorations of the Meridian cabinet and the library were made possible thanks to a sponsorship from the Société des Amis de Versailles.
A new layout evoking the intimate life of Marie-Antoinette
Just above the first floor, in 1774 the queen fitted out a set of small rooms reserved for her use as well as for her first maids and her servants. The two floors were connected by small staircases, including the so-called Billard one, located behind the alcove of his Great Room. After extensive archival research on the use and hierarchy of these pieces as well as on the original Toile de Jouy and its production at that time, all of these pieces were restored, provided with a new textile decoration and refurnished.
The public is invited to discover a new layout evoking the intimate life of Marie-Antoinette. The spaces are composed as follows: two rooms “à la Reine“, that is to say a dining room and a boudoir, a billiard room (a game that the court loved since Louis XIV) which became a company lounge, three rooms assigned to the first chambermaids and three rooms for the service. The restitution of the toiles de Jouy, a central element of the redevelopment of the second floor, was carried out for the most part using the traditional technique with a flat frame, highlighting the preservation of artistic crafts, thanks to the patronage and know-how of the Pierre Frey House. Thus, the Queen’s pieces are, for example, decorated with the Large Pineapple canvas, one of the most beautiful productions of the Manufacture de Jouy in the 18th century.
Samples of 18th century textiles
These rooms have been refurnished with new acquisitions and a set of restored and relined furniture and art objects. Each space evokes a part of the sovereign’s life: Madame Campan, her first maid, her entourage, in particular the princesses of Chimay and Lamballe, the royal family and her close relationship with her children. One room will present samples of 18th century textiles from these cabinets, and a final room dedicated to the memory of the sovereign.
Shortly after her arrival in Versailles in 1770, Marie-Antoinette took possession of Marie Leszczynska’s apartment on the first floor as well as a few private cabinets on the reverse. Audacious, of a very sure taste and conscious of her rank of Archduchess of Austria and future Queen of France, she ordered embellishment works very early on. His demands and his impatience even attracted the disapproval of the King’s First Architect, Ange Jacques Gabriel.
A woman inclined to independence
These multiple developments, which continued at an increasing pace, also betrayed the need for intimacy of a young woman who was lively and naturally inclined to independence. In these cabinets, the Queen’s real living space, with controlled access, Marie-Antoinette rested from the fatigues of the court and received her children and a select circle of friends.
Until 1788, she never stopped transforming, extending, fitting out, embellishing her cabinets, decor being her true passion. She gave these rooms the most elegant furnishings, witness to the harmony and perfection of the French decorative arts at the end of the Ancien Régime.
For two weeks, the Palace of Versailles will offer 12 guided tours a day to discover the restored and refurnished interior apartment of the Queen.
information and booking : www.chateauversailles.fr