Saturday, September 23, 2017

Book Review: Versailles

34227567Author: Catherine Pegard
Publication Date: September 12, 2017
Publisher: Vendome Press

Versailles is one of the most photographed places in the world. Yet masses of tourists make it virtually impossible to imagine the splendor of the palace as it existed from the time of Louis XIV, the Sun King, in the 17th century, until the fall of Napoleon III in 1870. Now, four talented photographers were granted unlimited access to Versailles when the ch√Ęteau was closed to visitors, and their work allows privileged access not only to the private suites of Louis XV, the boudoirs of Marie-Antoinette and Madame de Pompadour, the celebrated Hall of Mirrors, the Royal Chapel, the charming Orangerie, and Marie Antoinette’s bucolic Hamlet, but also to mysterious chambers and hushed apartments never normally seen. Captions describe daily life at Versailles and the momentous events that have taken place there, all published in a sumptuous oversize format befitting its majestic subject.

The queen, who was distinctly bored by these dinners, had a podium for musicians installed.

At dawn on 6 October 1789, the famished crowd – furious with ‘the Austrian woman,’ and having waited all night in the rain – broke open the gate of the Princes’ Courtyard. When the queen found she could not open the door to the Antechamber of the Grand Couvert, which had quickly been bolted, she had to turn back to the king’s apartments, which gave her time to escape.

Only the king was allowed to sit in this carved and gilded walnut chair that recently became part of the Versailles collections. It was never used in his absence, and the other members of the council sat on the folding stools commissioned from the Foliot family.

The king was a man who concealed his thoughts: the Duc de Luynes described him as ‘impenetrable not only in his secrecy, but also very often in the movements of his soul.’ 

This beautiful, absolutely mesmerizing book was something very new and very different for me, but I feel like I have been missing out on a part of the book world and I will forever regret that it took me this long to find books like this one. This book is filled with incredibly detailed photographs that display the ambiance and luxuriousness that make up Versailles, the Sun King’s palace. I have always had a profound interest in Marie Antoinette, which I know is what led me to request this book in the first place. However, I was not expecting to be swept away in the pages of this marvelous find. I have never been to France, let alone the palace of Versailles, but by spending the few hours that I did reading and enjoying this book, I felt as if I were walking the mirrored halls and corridors myself.

At the bottom of each page, there is a detailed, historical description of each photograph. I learned so much history just from the few sentences that I read per page. I found myself pausing periodically to read and re-read each little snippet, hoping that I missed nothing. I was most of all mesmerized by the close up pictures of the embroideries and little trinkets that belonged to the royals. The photographs were so crystal clear that I was left in awe and astonishment when I realized they were not actually sitting before me. As I flipped through the pages, it was so hard for me to believe that this palace has been around for as long as it has. It all seemed so real and so modern, which I attributed to the quality and crispness of the images I saw before me. Anyone would appreciate the marvelousness that is this book – I cannot wait to read and view many more books just like this one. I will forever cherish its beauty and magnificence.

***A free copy of this book was provided to me by the publishers at Vendome Press in exchange for my honest review*** 

1 comment:

  1. This sounds amazing! I recently visited the Crown Jewels in the Tower of London and experienced similar feelings. Can't wait to see Versailles for myself one day!
    Boarding with Books