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La Victoire de Samothrace, Unknown, 190 BC

The Hall of Mirrors


17th century

The Hall of the Mirrors is one of the most famous features of Versailles.

It was one of the most dazzling displays of wealth in the 17th century and the envy of other European courts.

The gallery measures a massive 70 x 10m and overlooks the gardens.

It was filled with silver furniture (later melted to finance Louis XIV's wars) and hosted balls, weddings and diplomatic missions - and could also be used by courtiers during the day.

In the evenings it was lit by thousands of candles, reflected in the mirrors panels.

The 350 mirrors are the most famous feature of the gallery.

The ability to produce so many and to such high standards was a testimony to the French king's incredible wealth.

It's said that the idea of decorating the gallery with mirrors actually came from Louis XIV's chief architect Mansart who didn't want to give his rival, artist Le Brun, more space to impress the king!

The ceiling celebrates Louis XIV's military victories.

Like many artworks in Versailles it's aimed at promoting the king's power.

The central painting is particularly immodest, entitled "Louis XIV governing by himself"!