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13.3.06

Restoring Baroque Versailles

Also on Ionarts:

Concerts at Versailles, Part 1 (October 14, 2003)

Concerts at Versailles, Part 2 (October 15, 2003)

Gardening at Versailles (June 17, 2004)

Storm Sculpture (June 24, 2004)

The Spectacle of Versailles (September 9, 2004)

Concert Tourism at Versailles (December 7, 2004)

Baroque Music in Versailles (January 4, 2006)
There is interesting news out of Versailles, a place about which, as a Baroque specialist, I like to stay informed. An article by François Dufay (Louis XIV déménage, March 2) for Le Point mentioned that the equestrian statue of Louis XIV, installed in the château's Cour d'Honneur since 1836, will be removed this month to undergo a much-needed restoration. Much more interesting is the other bit of information in that article (my translation):
The statue is specifically being removed to make room for the royal grille that needs to be recreated between the Pavillon Dufour and the Pavillon Gabriel. This golden enclosure, sealing off the most sensitive zone of the château, designed by Jules Hardouin-Mansart and melted down in the Revolution, is going to be remade to its original design. Baroque effect is guaranteed. The statue of Louis le Grand will have to be reinstalled a little farther away, perhaps at the start of the "goose foot" formed by the large avenues radiating out of the château. An ad hoc committee is looking into this new location.
There is a picture of the statue being removed in this article from France 2 Cultural News. The statue was commissioned by Louis-Philippe, and historians of the 19th century are upset by the decision about the grill and moving the statue. According to them, the government is destroying the last truly historical details of the building and grounds, when it was used and altered in the 19th century, in an attempt -- in their view, quixotic -- to return the place to its original Baroque state. An article (Louis XIV désarçonné à Versailles, February 21) by Marie-Douce Albert for Le Figaro goes into more detail. As Frédéric Didier, chief architect of Versailles, told Le Figaro, "We are always moving as much as possible toward the state of the residence in 1789." It's a fascinating problem: what history should we preserve?

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