For the first time, the Château de Versailles
devotes a large scale exhibition to Louis XIV. It brings together more than 300 exceptional works coming from collections all over the world and never shown together before. Paintings, sculptures, objets dart and furniture will be exhibited. These masterpieces, some of which have never been presented in France since the days of the Ancien Régime, will enable visitors to get to know the famous monarch better in both his personal tastes and through his public image.
The richness of the image of Louis XIV has no precedent in history: Louis XIV is the Sun King, i.e. Apollo as the sun god. But his image is also associated with other historical or mythological figures at different times during his reign: Alexander or Hercules, Augustus or Saint-Louis, etc. Fashioned by the king himself and his counselors, this image constantly evolved to convey emblematic figures of the royal power: the king of war leading his troops, the patron king and protector of the arts, the very Christian king and Defender of the Church, the king of glory, an image constructed for posterity. This visible glory, given mythical proportions, which was constructed during his lifetime, took shape thanks to the excellence of the artists chosen, such as Bernini, Girardon, Rigaud, Cucci, Gole, Van der Meulen and Coysevox who set out to sublimate the royal portrait, which the exhibition allows the visitors to rediscover.
Apart from his public image, if we wish to see the man behind the sovereign, we need to study his personal. He saw himself as a king who was the protector of the arts and a collector, competing with other sovereigns of Europe who were also genuine connoisseurs. Benefiting from the example of Mazarin, Louis XIV formed his taste in direct contact with artists, and through the personal relations that he established with them: Le Brun and Mignard in painting, Le Vau and Hardouin Mansart in architecture, Le Nôtre in the art of gardens, Lully in music, and Molière in theatre. By assembling the works appreciated by the King, a genuine portrait emerges of a passionate lover of the arts and a man of good taste through the jewels, cameos, medals, miniatures and objets dart, as well as the paintings and sculptures that he loved to surround himself with in the Petit Appartement in Versailles. He showed a keen personal interest in artistic creation by coming every day to follow up the progress being made in the works of Le Brun, by participating in the design and setting out of the gardens with Le Nôtre, by taking part in the ballets given in the Court, as well as by orchestrating the construction work of the Château de Versailles with Hardouin-Mansart and Le Vau.
The visit to the Château and gardens of Versailles will prolong the exhibition tour and enable the visitor to appreciate the great work of Louis XIV.