The exhibition Court Pomp and Royal Ceremonies Court Costume in Europe 1650-1800 traces the history of court costume in Europe and thus throws light on the major influence of France in this field from the mid-17th century to the beginning of the 19th century. For the first time, over 200 works (costumes, jewellery, iconography) linked to prestigious European monarchies are assembled here in an exhibition that will be presented only in Versailles
. The Victoria & Albert Museum, the Pitti Palace in Florence, the Louvre museum, the Musée Galliera, the Arts Décoratifs, the Archives nationales, as well as private collectors have agreed to loan their works. The royal collections from London, Dresden, Denmark (Rosenborg castle), Sweden (Livrustkammaren), Portugal (Ajuda Palace), as well as the imperial collections of Vienna (Kunsthistorisches Museum), the tsars of Russia (Hermitage museum), and Cologne Cathedral will be presented and assembled outside of their country of origin for the first time. This event forms part of a cycle of exhibitions evoking the life of the Court in the 17th and 18th centuries which includes Versailles and the royal tables in 1993-1994 and When Versailles was furnished in silver in 2007-2008.
With the court costume there developed a genuine political language whose primary function was to translate the hierarchy of power in visual terms. The costumes presented in the exhibition evoke both the extraordinary circumstances in which the monarchy was founded, the life of European monarchs and their courtesans, (anointing, crowning and ceremonies of the royal Orders), as well as the prestigious circumstances that are found in all the courts as in weddings. The outfits worn during these events are outstanding in the way they submit to the formalism of court Etiquette.
It is the luxuriousness of the materials, fabrics, embroidery, lace and trimmings and the accumulation of gems and jewellery that decide which court costumes are suited for this or that circumstance. The costume thus becomes a showcase for the trade in luxury goods, whose technical and aesthetic innovations it adopted. With the rising importance of fashion and the accelerated renewal of costume conventions, the court costume evolved rapidly. Yet the numerous orders made in Paris by European royal houses attest to the major influence of France in the world of court costume and fashion owing to the remarkable quality achieved by the Parisian craftsmen.