Day and night, admire an Air Impérial and the Grandes Eaux de Versailles, in front of the Castle!10 min read
The legendary Palace of Versailles is pleased to show a brand new revisited exhibition, about the imperial thematics. A proof that it’s still anchored in collective memory, unless many people don’t know a main part of the related artworks, from the own collection.
Indeed, under the King Louis-Philippe’s reign, the epic Napoleon found a place of choice in Versailles, notably with the creation in 1837 of the Museum of French History, where are presented major events who made the glory of country. Maintaining the legend of Napoleon alive through a more wide national cult, the New Regime’s representative Louis-Philippe therefore wished to gather in Versailles all the historical paintings and other artworks commissioned by the Emperor, found in the stores of the royal museums, and also by the way of numerous commands. At this occasion, from summer 2020, the Palace of Versailles presents a set of portraits of the imperial family, coming from its own collections. Some twenty works reunited for this even called “Un Air Impérial”, tell a part of the story of the Bonaparte family and evoke some codes of portraiture under Napoleon Ist.
On the other hand, you’re also invited to attend every Saturday evening of your summer, you may discover other facets of this Château de Versailles, through a nocturne but magical promenade through the gardens. Called the Grandes Eaux de Versailles, this luminous experience would undoubtedly enchant you. Either suitable both for the younger and older of you, pleased to follow the rhythm of some baroque music, played along the sumptuous French styled copses, surrounding this lavish classic castle.
These water shows bring to life these exceptional gardens and fountains, listed as UNESCO World Heritage List and are also granted by a Remarkable Garden label. For your information, no less than 15 groves (small gardens in the heart of the French garden), created by the time by the royal landscaper Le Nôtre, are adorned by 55 incredible fountains and basins.
Moreover, all these masterpieces are promised to you at these noble Grandes Eaux, surrounded by hundreds of magic statues. Exceptionally open and operating for a dedicated audience, these fountains melt into a wedding of water and music, revived once animated. For more than 350 years, the tradition of these Grandes Eaux has ever enjoyed a certain success, where you could for sure enjoy with a glass of champagne! Neither don’t miss our video at the bottom of this article! By Alex Plato
As seen earlier, the Palace of Versailles nowadays hosts the first and largest collection of historical paintings and portraits, painted and sculpted, commissioned by Napoleon for his own communication and naturally own desire, between 1799 and 1815 (photos credits: Didier Saulnier).
Under the curation of Frédéric Lacaille, this “Un air imperial” exhibition introduces a portrait gallery, along an early stage for the upcoming of the bicentenary of the death of Napoleon Bonaparte (May 5, 1821), within a retrospective of the life and reign of Napoleon. Starting from the origins of the Bonaparte family, since their native Corsica island in France, until their accession to some thrones of Europe… Moreover, it reveals as well the consuming ambition of the Emperor to create a fourth dynasty succeeding Bourbons.
In fact, Napoleon Bonaparte very early understood the power of image and portrait in particular. From the first Italian campaign and its portrait at the Pontus D’Arcole, he is regularly represented in the attitude, in the outfit and with the accessories of the situation. His portraits are widely distributed by replicas, lithographies and engravings in France and throughout Europe. His mother Maria-Letizia Bonaparte and his brothers and sisters, having participated to his seizure of power and the creation of the Empire, in turn benefit from the talent of the greatest portrait painters of that lavish period.
Therefore, you may admire either marble busts and paintings, realized by the greatest portrait painters of that time: Robert Lefèvre, François Gérard, Anne-Louis Girodet, Guillaume Guillon-Lethière, Charles Meynier, Jean-Baptiste Wicar, François Kinson and even Louise-Elisabeth Vigée-Le Brun, portrait painter of Marie-Antoinette, who was hired again by the New Regime.
The presentation is completed by some busts, works of Joseph Chinard, Pierre Cartellier and some workshops located in the famous Carrara handicraft village. In the beginning 19th century, these works illustrate the evolution of ceremonial portrait, whose codes have been significantly upset by the French Revolution. Most of them restored in recent years years, these portraits often commissioned by Napoleon himself during his reign were used for the decoration of imperial residences (the Tuileries Palace, castles of Saint-Cloud, Fontainebleau, Compiègne, etc.). They are presented here a few months before resuming in the rooms of the Chimay and Midi penthouses.
“Un Air Imperial” exhibition / Napoleonic portraits of the Palace of Versailles, visible every day, except Monday, 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. (last admission 5:30 p.m.). Hourly reservation required on chateauversailles.fr
Once you get outside the Castle, you should attend a unique and wonderful water show, baptized Grandes Eaux Nocturnes, also visible on day time as the Grandes Eaux Musicales, is organized between an ingenious ceremony between water, music and lights, and finally crowned by an amazing royal fireworks, created by the Groupe F. Thus, these French magicians of pyrotechnics, would demonstrate their genuine know-how, starting from the Grande Perspective.
As a matter of fact, once walking in and around these extended groves and fountains, all adorned with magnificent lights, mysterious shadows melt with some passing reflections. This whole spectacle is accompanied by the favorite music of the Sun King, would eventually follow you throughout this charming evening (photo credits: Alex Plato).
Indeed, this journey, full of amazement and surprises would allow you to admire a bunch of elegantly illuminated statues, topiaries and basins, notably inside the Orangerie, highlighted by its immense ceiling. Then, multiple colorful water performances would appear to you, as authentic surprises, from any part of your path! That’s why we invite you to arrive as early as possible, to get the chance to attend as many marvels as possible!
For instance, at the gigantic Mirror Basin where multicolored water jets intertwine and intersect through your panorama, just before the circular Colonnades Basin, sublimated by some light beams. From the beginning to the end, you would be undoubtedly vibed by this great patch, passing by the vibrant Green Carpet, then reaching the Ball grove where you could sketch a few brio dancing steps, surrounded by a thousands of candles and artificial fog…
Indeed, in these Colonnades circular fountains, you could observe the other Trois Fontaines, where rockeries and shells would for sure delight you, counting on the water aerial effects, arising from the fountain sculptures remaining from the Water Theater…
Furthermore, feel the same way in front of the Apollo Baths (pictured above), before admiring the sculptures of the Enceladus grove where stands an unmissable mastered water jet. Regarding this, there’s nothing to compare with the point of organ of this unique water show. Thus, don’t miss the magnificent compositions, accompanied by some baroque inspired choreographies and light water falls, visible at the Neptune Basin, which is regarded as the larger pond of the gardens.
For your information, these gardens were the object of all the attentions of the King Louis XIV, he paid so many efforts to sublimate them that they are nowadays one of the most famous of the World. Added to this, these groves of the Versailles Castle have been constituted, from the beginning of his reign, as real outdoor lounges, separated by high hedges and initially hidden in the heart of the wooden areas of the four corners of this domain.
Thus, the Sun King could satisfy his taste for games and entertainment in these places reserved for parties and entertainment. As seen earlier, fully decorated with fountains, vases and statues, these groves are the crossroads to reach a couple of discrete paths, uploading surprise and fantasy inside this timeless royal park.
The talent of the 17th century fountain makers and their successors has always contributed to the Grandes Eaux as an unforgettable fairy tale. Since water essences may multiply all kinds of side effects, visual, acoustic and even olfactive.
On the other hand, a couple of alternative of options of materials have been used to complete this artwork, such as metal employed for the fountains and marble for these statues, mostly representing Greek gods, famous characters and other cherished animals. So many seem to come alive for a ballet with the greatest baroque composers, from Lully to Charpentier or Rameau, would accompany your royal stroll, cradled with some sweet music.
Another option? Still on summer Saturdays, just after the Grandes Eaux Musicales or even before the Grandes Eaux Nocturnes, you’re much invited to discover or rediscover the royal State Apartments of the Palace of Versailles, and in privileged conditions, in company of a bunch of baroque musicians and dancers (photo credits: Mireille Ampilhac).
At the occasion of this new creation called “The Painters of the King”, starring a recollection of some ancient popular and religious songs and sometimes traditional sword fighting games, like in the good old time!
The Sérénade Royale (Royal Serenade), happening in the Galerie des Glaces (Hall of Mirrors), offers a forty-five minute visit through the Great Apartments, from the time when the sun goes down.
Passing through the Hercules Salon and the Marble Court, follow the itinerary show reaching the State Apartments of the King and the Queen and the Hall of Mirrors, in the company of musicians from the Folies Françoises and dancers of the Compagnie de Danse l’Eventail. At the image of the court from the 17th century, spectators attend funny or classic scenes, whose only Versailles holds the secrets…
Château de Versailles / Place d’Armes, 78000 Versailles (France) / Open from Tuesday to Sunday, from 9am to 5.30pm / More information on the official website.
Grandes Eaux Nocturnes: Every Saturday night, from June 27th to September 19th, 2020.
Opening, setting to music and watering of the Grande Perspective, from 8:30 p.m. to 11:05 p.m.
Opening, setting to music and watering of the groves, from 8:35 p.m. to 10:45 p.m.
Final fireworks display from 10:50 p.m. to 11:05 p.m.
Grandes Eaux Musicales: Every Saturday and Sunday, until November 1st, 2020.
Opening of the groves and entrance fee, from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., set to music from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m, and watering from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. and from 3.30 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Impoundment of the Bosquet of the Water Theater, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Impoundment of the Miroir Basin, every 10 minutes from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Impoundment of the Bassin de Neptune every 15 minutes, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., then from 5.45 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Final historical impoundment of the Bassin de Neptune, from 5:20 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
La Sérénade Royale: Every Saturday night, from June 27th to September 19th, 2020.
Attend these 45-minute sessions at 6.30 p.m., 6:50 p.m., 7:10 p.m., 7:30 p.m., 7:50 p.m.
This Sérénade Royale in the Hall of Mirrors, is offered exclusively within the condition of the purchase of a combined ticket, with either Grandes Eaux Musicales or Grandes Eaux Nocturnes.
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