The Palace of Versailles and its exhibition dedicated to Peter the Great return on an international event: the Russian Tsar's stay in France in 1717. For two months, Peter I mangled the protocol, he refused to stay in the royal apartments, took the young King of France into his arms but retained France’s greatest innovations to use them again in Saint Petersburg. 300 years later, you can now relive his travel from May 30 to September 24, 2017.
Peter the Great, a Tsar in France is the next theme of the Palace of Versailles exhibition. From May 30 to September 24, 2017, 300 years after his trip, the Palace of Versailles unveils the secrets of the meeting between the Russian Empire and the King of France, Louis XV.
Through 150 works including wonderful paintings, sculptures as well as maps, medals, books and manuscripts from the glorious State Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg. The museum invites us to relive the trip of the Russian Tsar, Pierre I, came to France from April 21 to June 21, 1717. Several manuscripts relate this meeting as seen from the French side, showing the milestones of the preparations such as the offer of several gifts that could please the Tsar, like “a saber mounting with stones of 26.822 Louis d’or” or rubies valued at 35.000 Louis d’or as well as the “description of the admirable fireworks set off by the regency of Amsterdam for the Grand Embassy on August 29, 1697”.
Even though the exhibition is set in a chronological order, it does not lack to recall stories such as the meeting with Louis XV that made an impression because of the protocol disrespect, or the hunt party with the Comte de Toulouse and the Mass at Notre-Dame. For two months, several memorialists including Saint-Simon, the Marquis de Dangeau or Jean Buvat left us precious records allowing us to retell his travel.
Saint Simon wrote: “he was a tall man, powerfully built, quite thin, a round face; a large forehead; beautiful eyebrows; a short nose but not a big tip; fleshy lips; reddish complexion; beautiful black eyes, wide, sharp, intense, cat-like eyes; a majestic and gracious look when he pays attention but severe and wild with a twitch that come back a lot, but which could dismantle his eyes and all his features, frightening others. It took a while with an off-beam and terrible look and then it was normal all over again. His whole look leaves a mark on his spirit, his thought and his height and does not lack of grace.”
The Tsar was on the look for inspiration and travel throughout Europe: curious spirit, art, sciences and techniques enthusiast, Peter the Great visited factories, Parisian academies, met the most eminent savants and artists at the Observatory, the Manufacture des Gobelins, the Jardin des Plantes, the Monnaie des Médailles, libraries, academies, curiosity cabinets… to get as much as French know-how to bring back and turn Saint Petersburg into a great global place!
This visit presents us the secrets of these diplomatic encounters that still remain mysterious. We discover all the content of the symbols shown all the time, respecting a meticulous protocol. Here is a wonderful discovery in an awe-inspiring setting often forgotten at Versailles.
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