Monday, November 20, 2006

Petit Trianon


Petit Trianon was originally built by Louis XV for his mistress Madame de Pompadour. It was a country-house on the grounds of Versailles, about a fifteen minute walk from the main palace. In 1774, the new twenty year old King Louis XVI gave the Little Trianon to his wife, nineteen year old Marie-Antoinette, saying, "Since Trianon has always belonged to mistresses of the king, it is only right that I should give it to you." It became a retreat where the queen could escape from the opulence and stiff formality of the court and live simply with her family. After her children were born, the queen was often there with them, desiring them to have as normal a childhood as possible. Marie-Antoinette has been criticized for "playing dairy maid" because of the farm she etablished at Trianon, giving homes and employment to otherwise destitute peasant families. Furthermore, the royal family was fed by the produce of the farm, in an attempt to cut back expenses. There were fish in the lake, fruit trees, berries, vegetables, livestock and the famous dairy with the Sevres milk pitchers. Horticultural experiments were applied there, new strains of plants, which were meant to better the lot of all the people. It was at Petit Trianon in 1785 that potatoes were introduced to France.

I first visited Trianon when I was seventeen years old. It was January, but the birds were inexplicably singing in the gardens. There was a strong sense of timelessness that I experienced then and on successive trips. Others have confided to me a similar feeling of enchantment when wandering through the gardens of Marie-Antoinette. Friends and relatives who have visited Trianon tell me that the descriptions and ambiance in the novel are quite accurate. There is nothing more pleasing to an author....

I hope this blog will capture the spirit of Trianon, which is the spirit of a queen who only sought to love and be loved in the company of her family and friends. Above are paintings by Joseph Caraud (1821-1905) of Marie-Antoinette, Louis XVI, their daughter Madame Royale, and friends, particularly the Princesse de Lamballe, relaxing at Trianon in the calm before the storm.

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12 comments:

Georgette said...

What a lovely blog, EMV!! I am so glad to see it is finally up! Oh what a wonderful description of yoru first day visiting Trianon--I would really love to have tea there! Maybe a part of heaven will be that way, set up just for such tea parties?

Looking forward to reading your posts. All the best!

Lots of love and prayers,
Georgette

Anonymous said...

Who is who in the above pictures? BTW, congrats EMV on your new blog!

Best regards,

Melanie

elena maria vidal said...

Hi, Georgette! Thanks for visiting!! Thanks for your kind words, as well as for all the prayers and encouragement which have led to this blog! Yes, the concept of Trianon is a little bit of heaven!

Melanie, thanks for stopping by! In the first picture is the queen reading while her daughter Marie-Therese is kissing her cheek, while being led away by Madame Elisabeth, her aunt. In the second picture is the queen sitting on a bench, with the king standing nearby. Madame de Lamballe, who was later torn to pieces by the mob, is standing behind with a parasol. One can see her lovely fair hair that the revolutionaries later had a hairdresser arrange after decapitating her. The Caraud paintings are a bittersweet meditation of the fleeting quality of life and a pondering of future catatrophes.

pimprenelle said...

Yes, it is a very beautiful blog, indeed ! Thank you for posting those paintings. I just adore the two of them... Marie Antoinette gently kissing Mousseline, and sitting on a bench, gracious and royal... Such a pleasure to see them !

the.avatar@att.net said...

Nice blog, Eileen...........

Fr. Hal

elena maria vidal said...

Thanks, Father Hal! Delighted for you to visit! I was hoping this blog would bring all my friends together!

Yes, dear Pimprenelle, the Casaud paintings really capture the ambiance of Trianon and the comaraderie and affection of the family and friends of Louis and Antoinette.

Jeffrey Smith said...

Bravo! Excellent work. Please keep it up.

elena maria vidal said...

Thanks, Jeffrey! Blogs like yours have inspired me!

Adrienne said...

Congratulations on a lovely blog! How nice to sit and read in a virtual trianon :)

elena maria vidal said...

Thanks, Adrienne! Thanks for stopping by! That is exactly what I envision, a virtual Trianon!

My husband came home with some French pastries from Panera to celebrate!

Alan said...

Thank you for the link! I shall visit often; For 15 years I have longed to visit Versailles and, of course, Trianon. Thank you for your vivid descriptions and dedication.

elena maria vidal said...

Thanks, Alan, for the kind comment! I plan to keep it updated, so please visit often!