Etablissement public du château, du musée et du domaine national de Versailles
Until the 25 February 2018, the Palace of Versailles features an exhibition that presents how visitors from all over the world already rushed to this palace open to all since the reign of Louis XIV.With more than 7 million visitors per year in the XXIst Century, Versailles is one of the most visited historic sites in the world. The palace and gardens of Versailles have attracted visitors ever since the small hunting lodge built by Louis XIII was transformed by Louis XIV into one of the most stunning residences in Europe, open to everyone according to the King's will.
Cosmopolitan Versailles has welcomed French and foreign travellers, princes, ambassadors, artists, writers and philosophers, architects, scholars, tourists on the "Grand Tour" and day trippers from near and far. While some came to Versailles to see the King or win his favour, others were received officially by the Sovereign in the Palace, a place of intensive diplomatic activity.
Both public and private the palace of Versailles hosted the quotidian show that the King performed for his Cour and all his subjects. Visitors flocked from all over the world to this castlet that became the most accessible in Europe. The whole society without any distinction was invited to go to Versailles.
From the ambassadors of Siam in 1686 to the ambassadors of the Indian Kingdom of Mysore in 1788, representatives from almost every continent came to Versailles. Each visit was an opportunity to discover beautiful national dress and the originality of the gifts visitors brought with them. Gazettes, literary journals and official memoires bore testimony to the most important visitors and the parties held in their honour.
The exhibition is the first on this subject and will turn the spotlight on these visitors through more than 300 works from the late 17th century to the French Revolution. With portraits and sculptures, Court attire, travel guides, tapestries, Sevres and Meissen porcelain, display weapons and snuffboxes, the exhibition will reveal what visitors discovered upon arriving at Versailles. It will also show the sort of welcome awaiting them, what they saw and their impressions, the gifts or memories they left with. Visitors today will discover the Palace through the eyes of those who have gone before them over the course of history.
- Bertrand Rondot, Head Curator at the Palace of Versailles, in charge of furniture and objets d’art
- Daniëlle Kisluk-Grosheide, Curator at the European Sculpture and Decorative Arts Department of the Metropolitan Museum of Art
© Établissement public du château, du musée et du domaine national de Versailles
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