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La Victoire de Samothrace, Unknown, 190 BC

The State Apartments

Versailles

17th century

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Louis XIV grew up in an environment of great political instability.

One of his key aims in building Versailles was to lure the nobles away from Paris in order to better subdue them.

He succeeded : thousands of courtiers moved from Paris to Versailles, either staying in rooms at the palace or in town, hoping to see and be seen by the king.

3 evenings a week, the king would host parties in these State Apartments.

The reference to his power permeate these rooms.

The names of the rooms are all references to gods or planets - Venus, Mercury, Mars, Apollo, Diane, Hercules.

The room of Venus has a statue of Louis XIV as a Roman emperor and paintings of Augustus and Alexander the Great.

Fun fact : in the room of Abundance, the vase painted above the door is the "nef d'or" - Louis XIV's golden napkin holder which was only taken out on special occasions and had to be greeted by courtiers as they passed it!

The room of Mars has paintings of Mars, the god of war, Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar and Augustus.

The room of Mercury has paintings promoting Louis XIV's sponsorship of the arts and sciences and diplomatic successes.

Fun fact : on the clock on the mantlepiece, as it strikes the hour, figures of Louis XIV and Fame descend from clouds!

The room of Hercules has one of the largest painted ceilings in the world.

Finally, the room of Apollo was Louis XIV's throne room.

It was placed at the top of steps and surrounded by sparkling silver furniture, all of which were melted down to finance Louis XIV's wars.

The painted ceiling represents Apollo, the god of sun, beauty and youth - Louis XIV's favourite symbol.

La Joconde, de Vinci (1519)

Next:

The Chapel

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