Exhibits: Sun King's collection returns to Versailles

The palace like new Rome staged by Italian director

14 November, 13:17

(By Aurora Bergamini) (ANSAmed) - Paris, November 14 - The collection of Louis XIV, known as the Sun King, will return to Versailles after over two centuries: 200 objects of art including paintings, designs, sculptures and tapestries which were moved after the French revolution and subsequently mostly displayed at the Louvre Museum, were grouped for the first time and located in their original places in an exhibit called ' Versailles and Antiquity' open until March 17. The show focuses on the relationship between art and power across ten rooms.

'Antiquity is first of all a number of pieces, of materials and art which bear witness to a bygone,glorious civilization', said curators Alexandre Maral and Nicolas Milovanovic.

'Versailles was at the times of Louis XIV like a new Rome: for its immensity, ambition to remain across the centuries, for the multitude of references to the great models of antiquity. The Sun King made Versailles the seat of power'.

'The castle finds its splendour', said museum president Catherine Pegard. 'It is of great emotional impact: past masterpieces are returning in their place thanks to the magic of Italian theatre director Pier Luigi Pizzi who has been in charge of the scenery. It is not just an exhibit, this is theatre: we are projected to the apartment of the king, in the intimacy of the art collector'.

'I tried to build a dialogue between a great king such as Louis XIV and the masterpieces on display, making them re-live in a precise atmosphere which corresponded to the spirit of the XVII and XVIII centuries', observed Pizzi. 'It was very much an issue of stage design, the set here was as important as in theatre. It was necessary to adapt the rooms of the royal palace to the context of the collection'.

The Milanese director covered the walls in a burgundy fabric and created imaginary boiseries and doors. 'Evoking antiquity entails bringing to mind a certain classicism which influenced the whole style of Louis XIV. His collections needed to find a certain environment. I tried not to make it look like a makeshift environment and preferred to leave the sense of the palace as if objects found their natural collocation, instead of putting them on display as is usually done'. Among the art on show is a painting of Jeanne-Antoniette Poisson, Marchioness of Pompadour, dressed as Diana, of Jean-Marc Nattier and several statues of Venus, Apollo, Cleopatra, Baccus, Isis and busts of emperors Domiziano and Vitellio. (ANSAmed)

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