Wednesday, September 9, 2009

La Ville De Versailles, A Serious Series of Visits: 1st in the Series Being An Introduction with MUCH MORE TO COME!

Although I had been taken there as a child, I consider my first visit to Versailles was in 2000 to quietly celebrate my recent 40th birthday in late 1999. I recall working on a epic scale appraisal and subsequent liquidation sale of the estate of a rather prominent interior designer that summer and autumn during which time the workload was so intense that a birthday in France was unthinkable. Those same circumstances also regrettably impeded me from going to France to see the historic preview of the Sotheby's auction for the Chateau de Groussay which I have ever regretted. But duty has to come first I suppose... Anyone who knows anything about the life of an art/antiques appraiser knows it's hard work and late hours in often inclement environments. And this one was not only huge. It was gritty and ugly! The decedent had been murdered brutally and left no will. He also left behind a cornucopia of personal property as well as his stock in trade that took up his residence (where I had to record the contents amidst clear bloodstains in the master bedroom where he was murdered), a showroom in Miami's well known "Design District" which is not particularly safe at night when I would have to routinely continue working, and 2 warehouses in the poor "Little Haiti" area of Miami with NO AC in August and in which I also had to work routinely well into the night just to keep up with the work load and the deadlines. What sustained me during this epic assignment was the determination to reward myself when it was over and go spend a week in the city of Versailles about which I knew nothing by first hand experience and of which I deeply yearned to know more. To other colleagues and friends also interested in the great Chateau de Versailles, the ancien régime, and the decorative arts of the joyful 18th Century this seemed odd indeed. Invariably, the response was either "You mean you're going to Paris of course..." to "Why don't you stay in Paris and just take the train into Versailles? You'll be bored to death... What will you do when you're not in the Chateau? There is nothing there!"

Thank God I learned a long time ago to follow my instincts which were heavily reinforced by years and years of reading. And was I ever rewarded! La Ville de Versailles is glorious! Not only that, in spite of the inevitable demolition here and inexcusable alteration there, the city is home to historic buildings including homes of royal mistresses, artists, courtiers and all the old "friends" about whom any lover of the French court from the age of Louis XIV to the Revolution has read in endless histories, diaries, letters and memoires of the period. The rewards of a sojourn in early 21st Versailles are manifold! Outside of the chateau itself, there are virtually no crowds. The smaller Musée Lambinet which is a former 18 eme Hôtel Particulier converted into a museum similar in mission statement to that of the Carnavalet and which is largely devoted to the history of La Ville de Versailles is peaceful and pregnant with glorious collections including period rooms, paintings, porcelains, objets d'art and has hosted major landmark exhibitions on such masters of the 18th Century as the painter
Jean-Jacques Bachelier or the Sculptor Simon Boizot. Stay tuned for more about this subject to which I have devoted many rewarding years of study and visits. Et Vive le Roi!

1 comment:

  1. I had wanted to stay overnight in Versailles but we weren't able to do this due to other commitments in Paris. When I return again next year I plan to both stay in Versailles and make sure the visit falls on a weekday, which hopefully will be less crowded than Versailles on a Sunday!


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