Louis-Philippe and Versailles, the compelling exhibition at the Palace of Versailles running from October 6, 2018 to February 3, 2019, will return on the Louis-Philippe’s big decision to turn the ancient royal residence into a museum focusing on “all the glories of France”.
When he takes the throne in 1830 following the July Revolution, Louis-Philippe I moves in the Tuileries with Queen Marie-Amélie and their 5 sons. Louis-Philippe never foresaw himself settling in Versailles especially as the estate is unoccupied since the French Revolution in 1789.
In 1832, meaning two years after he takes the throne, Louis-Philippe I embarks on the project to turn this palace into a national monument. It’s about restoring the memory of the past monarchy and raise a museum to “all the glories of France”.
To do so, he draws on the funds of the former royal, princely, private and institutional collections he will complete with retrospective works ordered to contemporary artists. With over 6000 paintings and 3000 sculptures, this museum will be the main iconographic source of the history of France.
Witness of this age, Victor Hugo will write: “What Louis-Philippe has done in Versailles is good […] in one word, he gave to this wonderful book we call the history of France, this magnificent binding we call Versailles”.
The climax of the project, the royal residence with the Grands Appartements is restored and refurbished and the former monarchy is mainly evoked in the Grand Appartement du Roi, with the bedroom that is the highlight of the tour.
By the way, in the North and South wings, major works are carried out. Louis-Philippe creates Historical Galleries to structure the visit of this museum by presenting focuses on the determinant moments of the History of France.
The Battles Gallery from Tolbiac to Wagram, the Estates General room, the 1792 room, the Napoleon Sacre room to which answers the 1830 room to the glory of the new monarch and finally the Crusades rooms and the Africa rooms are imagined at this time!
To present the theme of the Crusades, Louis-Philippe commissions 150 paintings designed to be hung in an exceptional neo-gothic décor; among the artists entrusted with the order, Eugène Delacroix who painted Entry of the Crusaders in Constantinople. For the record, the painting was transferred to the Louvre in 1885 and its duplicate replaces it in Versailles.
The Africa, Crimea and Italy rooms are focusing on the illustration of the conquest of Algeria in 1830 and 1847, as well as the Siege of Constantine in October 1837 and the French victories in Morocco serving as a prelude to the Treaty of Tangiers in 1844.
In this museum dedicated to all the glories and thought up by Louis-Philippe, we also find the military campaigns of the French Directory, the French Consulate and the Empire. Paintings – many of them were commissioned by Napoléon himself – are placed there in a rich décor of woodworks and painted panels!
In this dismantled museum, in the beginning of the Third Republic, the best is yet to come: the Crusades and Africa rooms in the North wing, the Estates General and Napoleon Sacre room in the main body, the gallery of Battles and the Empire rooms in the South wing, without forgetting the study documents and illustrations made at that time, to be discovered in the exhibition.
As an extension, the presentation will offer a genuine dive into the Palace of Versailles in the 19th century. So, theater decors made for the opening of the Historic Galleries on June 10, 1837 will be back on the stage of the Royal Opera and the stone galleries will be reconstituted in their original states, the original busts and lights will be back all together on the occasion!
Dates and Opening Time
From 6 October 2018 to 3 February 2019
Château de Versailles