The Place de la Concorde was designed by Ange-Jacques Gabriel in 1755 as a moat-skirted octagon between the Champs-Élysées to the west and the Tuileries Garden to the east. Decorated with statues and fountains, the area was named Place Louis XV to honor the king at that time. The square showcased an equestrian statue of the king, which had been commissioned in 1748 by the city of Paris, sculpted mostly by Edmé Bouchardon, and completed by Jean-Baptiste Pigalle after the death of Bouchardon. During the French Revolution the statue of Louis XV of France was torn down and the area renamed Place de la Révolution or Place de la Guillotine. The new revolutionary government erected the guillotine in the square, and it was here that King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette were executed. In 1795, under the Directory, the square was renamed Place de la Concorde as a gesture of reconciliation after the turmoil of the French Revolution. During the reinstitution of the monarchy the name changed but after the the July Revolution of 1830 the name was returned to Place de la Concorde and has remained the same since. Measuring 8.64 hectares (21.3 acres) in area, it is the largest square in Paris.
Boxes are an invention that probably predates recorded history, but were certainly present after the Neolithic revolution with a more sedentary lifestyle. By the Middle Ages every home had at least one chest given as part of the bride’s dowry. The chests in the Middle Ages were usually pretty simple affairs but that all changed in the Renaissance. The emergence of a wealthy merchant class meant that the the chest had to be more ornate, more expensive and bigger. The cassone (“large chest”) was one of the trophy furnishings of rich merchants and aristocrats in Italian culture, from the Late Middle Ages onward. The cassone was the most important piece of furniture of that time. It was given to a bride and placed in the bridal suite. It would be given to the bride during the wedding, and it was the bride’s parents’ contribution to the wedding. The casson pictured above would have been an extravagant wedding gift. I have collected photos of a number of beautiful chests and cabinets from around the world, from different time periods and I will show them here along with some very interesting history.
I am breaking this post on Bagatelle into smaller pieces, this is the second part on the gardener's house, seen above. As I said in the previous post, the Count d'Artois, Louis XVI's younger brother, and thus Marie-Antoinette's brother-in-law, had bought a house, in very bad condition, existing on this site. Marie-Antoinette, amused by the poor condition of the place when she visited it for the first time, said to her brother-in-law that she hoped to be accommodated there two months later. Artois took up the challenge, and it is said that he bet 100,000 pounds with the Queen. Artois won his bet, two days later the architect Bélanger had drawn the plans of the folie, and nine hundred workmen leveled the buildings and prepared the ground. By November of 1777 the house, or as the French call it folie, was completed. The name Bagatelle comes from the Italian bagattella, means a trifle, or little decorative nothing. In 1777 a party was thrown in the recently completed house in honor of Louis XVI and the Queen.
In 1668, Louis XIV purchased Trianon, a hamlet on the outskirts of Versailles, and commissioned the architect Louis Le Vau to design a porcelain pavilion (Trianon de porcelaine) to be built there, to escape the pomp and rigid formality of court life with his mistress Madame de Montespan. In only a few years the fragile porcelain tiles deteriorated and Louis XIV had it torn down to be replaced with a more robust building.
In 1687 Jules Hardouin Mansart built the Grand Trianon, considered the most refined group of buildings anywhere in the domain of Versailles, on the site of the “Porcelain Trianon”. It is located at the end of the right end of the cross of the Grand Canal seen in the map to the right by the red box. In 1717, Peter the Great of Russia, who was studying the palace and gardens of Versailles, resided at the Grand Trianon; the Grand Palace at Peterhof is copied on Versailles.
We happened to visit during a special exhibition, Les Dames de Trianon (Ladies of the Trianon) which features all the kings’ women, the wives, the daughters, the sisters, the mothers, the ladies-in-waiting, the mistresses. Versailles is trying to revive interest in the often-overlooked Grand Trianon by hosting exhibitions here, like last year’s successful “A Taste of the 18th Century,” which brought together modern designers’ creations inspired by the 18th-century. I will be presenting images of the paintings from the exhibition in addition to images of the Grand Trianon.
This is the interior of the Royal Chapel at the Palace of Versailes. Begun in 1689, construction was halted due to the War of the League of Augsburg; Jules Hardouin-Mansart resumed construction in 1699. Hardouin-Mansart continued working on the project until his death in 1708, at which time his brother-in-law, Robert de Cotte, finished the project. The marble floor is beautiful and to my eye the chapel has a very modern feel, not as much ostentatious gilt as the rest of Versailles. Dedicated to Saint Louis, patron saint of the Bourbons, the chapel was consecrated in 1710. Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette were married here. The chapel was de-consecrated in the 19th century and has since served as a venue for state and private events. Musical concerts are often held in the chapel of Versailles as seen to the right.