Saturday, April 19, 2008

l' exposition Marie-Antoinette

Marie-Antoinette 1755-1793
Queen of France

I miss Paris! Since I can't hop on a plane to Paris this year, I do my Paris exploring and shopping not on foot but on the Internet.

The other night I was looking at my favorite French patisserie site Laduree . I always like to see what flavors are new and what French delights I am missing out on. I believe, they make the best macaroons in Paris.

Oui, of course, there will a future post about Laduree!
Their web site is filled with beautiful photographs. Currently there is a photo of a green (trademark Laduree color) French coach filled with scrumptious macaroons and patisseries. The title says it is for the l'exposition Marie-Antoinette. (Laduree made all of the cakes and patisseries for the 2006 movie Marie-Antoinette by Sofia Coppola). Since the description was in French, I had to do some further research. Oui, Paris is paying tribute right now to Marie-Antoinette with an incredible exhibit.

The exhibit is at the Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais. If you are lucky enough to be going to Paris soon, it runs thru June 30, 2008. The exhibit brings together 300 works of art, furnishings and documents from all over the world. (Sadly many of her possessions were scattered during the French revolution). This is a pretty big event. The last French tribute of this magnitude was the Marie-Antoinette exhibit at Versailles back in 1955.

The last time we were in Paris...we saw Marie-Antoinette all over town. Movie posters where everywhere promoting Sofia Coppola's 2006 movie Marie-Antoinette. Since there was such a buzz about Marie-Antoinette all over France, it was the perfect time to go explore Versailles and see how the French royals lived.

Entrance to the Chateau Versailles

I had heard mixed reviews about giving up a day in your Paris vacation to go to Versailles. I am so glad that we did. Being an Interior Designer, I loved seeing the opulence and the decor at Versailles. It was truly fit for Kings and Queens.

Marie-Antoinette a' la rose by Madame Vigee-Lebrun,
her favorite court painter.

It is her most famous portrait.

Marie-Antoinette was not born French. She was the Austrian born Queen of Louis XVI. In 1774 when her husband became King, he gave her the Petite Trianon from his grandfather's estate. It was a small chateau on the ground of Versailles. It was her private retreat away from court life.

Petite Trianon

She had exquisite personal taste. She was given free rein to renovate her Petite Trianon. She commissioned new English style gardens for the grounds. She commissioned beautiful furnishings and was known as a patron of the arts.

She was such a natural French style maker and trendsetter. She was known to be a very lavish spender. She had the nickname of "Madame Deficit". No wonder I love her decorating!

She is undoubtedly France's most notorious Queen. In 1793, sadly her life ends by guillotine at the height of the French Revolution. Her crime is treason. She undoubtedly lives on to due to our fascination with her and her fabulous good taste.

So if you can't get to Paris to see her exhibit, here is a glimpse into her world at Petite Trianon at Versailles:

Sitting Room

Gilded furniture in the neoclassical mode. I just love the Aubusson rug!

La Chambre

Queen Marie-Antoinette's bedroom. Trelliswork furniture by G. Jacob made for this room in 1787. Still upholstered with it's original embroidered cotton damask (the original bed has vanished).

La Boudoir

Her boudoir was called the room of moving mirrors. The mirrors where mobile and could be placed in front of the windows to shut out the light.

I just love her decorating style. French is, after all, my favorite furniture style of choice!

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