Monday, October 13, 2014

Honeymoon: The Palace - The King's Grand Apartment

Been almost a month since the last post; I really need to find back the blogging motivation to document more memories of this lil space. Over the weekend, I made asked Leecher to vacuum my work table at home. Then, I swapped the ironing slot to blogging slot, so I could sit in front of the computer and begin typing this entry. From the Royal Chapel, we adjourned to the King's State Apartments. This is a prestigious collection of 7 rooms, each dedicated to a Roman deity. As the rooms were meant to serve as a venue for sovereign's official acts, no efforts were spared to decorate each room lavishly. 
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The Hercules Room connects the chapel and the North Wing of the Palace with the Grand Apartment of the King. The room began construction in 1710, for King Louis XIV wanted the Hercules Room to be a showcase for a large painting. The work was finally completed 26 years later, with a painted ceiling called Apotheosis of Hercules. It is not surprising that the painting gave the room its name (Hercules Room). 
The painting which led to the construction of the room, known as Meal at the House of Simon the Pharisee. Simon was a gift from the Doge to King XVI, for he wanted the french king to support him in a war with the Turks. This painting was once displayed at the Louvre, but Simon was returned back to its rightful place in 1961.  


pic courtesy of google 

During evening soirees, the Abundance room was the place of refreshments, which consisted of coffee, wine and liqueurs. The King's vessels, a precious object in the form of a dismastered ship was placed on the sovereign's table on grand occasions. This was a symbol of power, for it contained the sovereign's serviette and everyone had to salute as they passed. Strangely, I couldn't find a picture of this room in both cameras, so I had to grab one of the internet.

The Venus Room takes its name from the Venus, the theme linked to the solar myth which inspired all the decor of Versailles. Venus is depicted on the ceiling with the features of the Goddess of Love. During apartment evenings, the Venus room was used for serving light meals in buffet style. We also get to see a full length status of King Louis XVI glorified as a Roman Emperor, which is the centerpiece of this room.


On evening soirees, Diana room served as a billiard room for the King. King Louis XIV was known to be skilled at billiard. The ladies would watch from benches set up on platforms, giving them a good view of the game. The ladies often applauded the brilliant strokes of the King, hence this room has a nickname called "The Chamber of Applause".
In ancient Rome, Mars was known as the God of War. The strong inspiration of this using Mars, the God of War, for this room for it was originally meant to serve as a guard room for the parade apartment. During King Louis XIV's reign, it served as a ballroom during his evening receptions. 
In the centre of the ceiling, a painting of Mars on a chariot drawn by wolves can be seen. The work is then framed by two compositions; on the east - Victory supported by Hercules followed by Abundance & Felicity and on the west - Terror, Fury and Fright taking over the powers of Earth. 
pic credit to Rhonda Krause

The Mercury room, named after the Roman god of Trade, Commerce & Liberal Arts was the parade chamber of the Grand Apartment, hence it's name of "bed chamber", even though this bed was quickly removed in winter in order to free up the space and install the gaming tables. Since then, it served as a gaming (card) room during evening receptions. The palace's famous silver furniture was kept here. Next to the bed is a painting of David playing the harp, one of the King's favorites paintings. Once again, I had to grab a pic of the internet for Leecher wasn't taking pictures despite him holding onto the camera, tsk tsk!
Dedicated to the Sun God, the Apollo Room was the most luxurious of all. Apollo was also the God whom Louis XIV identified himself with. While the paintings and sculptures remained in this room, the rest of the furniture has disappeared. The silver furniture, in particular a 2.6m high throne, was metled down in 1689 due to a war. The King ordered all the silver furniture to be sent to the mint to be melted down, so as to help defray the cost of war. Instead, a gilded wooden armchair replaced the throne. 

As we walked through all the rooms, I was largely impressed by the detailed drawings found on the ceiling. It must have been difficult doing large scale paintings on the ceiling without suffering from neck aches. The effort taken to complete each painting, regardless of sizes, was definitely commendable.

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