The louvre

Versailles in the spotlight at the Louvre Abu Dhabi

There were artists, philosophers, adventurers, merchants and many more… the 17th and 18th centuriesthe court of Louis XIV and Marie Antoinette has succeeded in establishing itself as a real diplomatic pole, attracting the visit of prestigious emissaries from all over the world. To shed light on this historical period, the Louvre Abu Dhabi, the Emirati branch of the famous Parisian museum in its decor signed Jean Nouvel, currently hosts the exhibition “Versailles and the world”. The exhibition brings together more than a hundred works from the collections of the Louvre Abu Dhabi, the Royal Collection Trust from the UK and 17 French lenders.

Three exhibitions in one?

The visit is divided into three main sections, recognizable by the color of the walls. The first, painted red, is a tribute to the Hall of Mirrors, the culmination of the castle’s diplomatic role, which at the time received emissaries from all over the world. The visit includes a reconstruction of the marble staircase reserved for the procession of ambassadors, mandatory passage to the throne room and the hall of mirrors. It also highlights the ceremony of June 5, 1662an unprecedented equestrian parade organized to celebrate the birth of the crown princein the presence of representatives of all the greatest kingdoms and empires of the time: Romans, Persians, Turks, Indians and Americans.

The story of the visit of many emissaries who came to celebrate the birth of the prince. Credits: Khushnum Bhandari / The National.

International dimension

The second shows the fascination of the royal couple for China, and more generally. He exposes many vases and other porcelain objectswith motifs very characteristic of the region, as well as literary worksincluding a transcript of the Thousand and one Nightand pearls of the East, held in high esteem by the monarchs of the time.

Pineapple, by Jean-Baptiste Oudry, commissioned this portrait from Queen Marie-Antoinette, who hung it a few decades later in her gilded room. Credits: Khushnum Bhandari / The National.

Finally, the last section is a nod to the exoticism of Versailles. It opens with a painting of a very famous pineapple, the greatest challenge for gardeners of the time. Indeed, wishing to add exotic species to the long list of trees, plants, flowers, fruits and vegetables present in the large park of the castle, they made many attempts and experienced many failures before succeeding in growing the fruit with such a particular shape and taste. . On the fauna side, the exhibition also presents many paintings from the rich menagerie of the castle.

The exhibition “Versailles and the world” is presented at the Louvre Abu Dhabi until June 4.