Four Centuries of Design at Versailles

February 7, 2010By Heidi EllisonArchive




The dauphin’s bedroom at Versailles, redecorated with a folding Gobelins screen after Aki Kuroda and other contemporary furnishings. © EPV, JM. Manaï, C. Milet

During and after the French Revolution, the Château de Versailles was stripped of its furnishings, which were then sold off. For the past century or so, the Mobilier National, which manages the French government’s stock of furniture, has been trying to refurnish Louis XIV’s château with the long-dispersed original pieces, a daunting task since the provenance of many of them has been forgotten. A two-part exhibition, “Four Centuries of Design,” now on at the château, presents some of the more important acquisitions made since 2007 through purchases and donations.

The other part of the show – more interesting to anyone who is not an expert in French antiquities – is the decoration of the apartments of the dauphin and the dauphine as they might have been if the


The dauphin’s guardroom. with a tapestry after Victor Vasarely, a rug after Cécile Bart. © EPV, JM. Manaï, C. Milet


château were still occupied today, with the help of superstar French interior decorator Jacques Grange. The results are not always convincing, but it is great fun to see the Louis XIV, XV and XVI furnishings mixed with late-20th-and-21st century designs by the likes of Pierre Paulin, Martin Szekely, Marc Held, Ronan Bouroullec and many others.

In other Versailles news, the château’s controversial (because she has no experience in the art world) new director, Catherine Pégard, has announced that she will continue the practice initiated by the retiring director, Jean-Jacques Aillagon, of showing the work of contemporary artists like Jeff Koons and Takashi Murakami in the château. Heidi Ellison


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