Fallen into disuse after the French Revolution, the Palace of Versailles regained its reputation at the dawn of the Belle Époque. The "Versailles Revival" exhibition, from November 19, 2019 to March 15, 2020 retraces this key moment in the history of the palace, focusing on a transition period full of rediscover at the Château de Versailles.
From the end of the 18th century, the Palace of Versailles began a major restoration. This revival, mixed with passion, nostalgia and curiosity, accentuated the "Versailles" phenomenon. Currently at the palace is an exhibition dedicated to this transition period during which the Palace, its lands and history began to be looked at differently—Marie-Antoinette, Empress Eugenie and other royal icons became objects of fascination in the intellectual circles of Paris. In this time, the Versailles became the site of incredible must-see aristocratic parties as well as popular tourism and Republican assemblies.
"Versailles Revival" includes about 350 works, documents and photographs that illustrate the late 19th and early 20th century infatuation with the Palace of Versailles. The exhibition is also a way to discover this moment in the history of art when Versailles morphed into an endless source of literary, pictorial and musical inspiration, becoming synonymous with royal French elegance. Marcel Proust, Reynaldo Hahn, Gabriel Fauré and Giovanni Boldini become symbols of this enthusiasm for the period and the palace.
The Palace of Versailles
At the same time, a large restoration program led by Pierre de Nolhac, then the Director of the museum, began restoring the Palace of Versailles to the splendor and pomp of the Ancien Régime. Marcel Proust wrote this bittersweet paeon in its honor: "Versailles, your renowned name, rusty and sweet, a royal cemetery of foliage, of vast water and marble, a truly aristocratic and depressing place, where we are not even troubled by the remorse that the lives of so many workers served only to refine and to broaden, not so much the joys of another era as the melancholy of our own."
The "Versailles Revival" exhibition, showcased in the Africa and Crimea rooms, offers Versailles' admirers a chance to experience this period when the place evoked its most storied lavishness. From November 19, 2019 to March 15, 2020 this must-see exhibition sheds a beautiful light on the evolution of the Palace of Versailles.