Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Marie-Antoinette's Library at Versailles

All of the Queen's books were bound in red Moroccan leather and stamped in gold with her coat-of-arms

From Les Carnets de Versailles [translated by Tea at Trianon]:
Several handwritten catalogs, written between 1781 and 1792, list the Queen's books: nearly 500 titles, for a set of around 1,800 volumes. We find on the shelves of Versailles all the great authors, Latin and Greek classics as well as French and foreign writers. The ancients...but also La Fontaine, Boileau, Corneille, Molière, Racine, Regnard, Crébillon, Destouches, Madame de Sévigné, Madame de La Fayette, Lesage rub shoulders with the contemporaries - Voltaire, Rousseau, Beaumarchais , Goldoni, Defoe, Mme Riccoboni, Fielding, Richardson…
Marie-Antoinette has a certain predilection for romantic literature, entertaining works, theater and music. It also has a large music library (scores and booklets) supplied by the Menus Plaisirs. The more austere books, less appreciated by the sovereign, are not overlooked: theology (Pascal, Bossuet, Fénelon, Bourdaloue, Massillon, Nicole), history (Mézeray, Montfaucon…), science (Buffon, Nollet, Duhamel du Monceau …) are present on the shelves. There are also large volumes of travel and archeology, illustrated with magnificent engravings.... 
Like many of the Château's collections, the books formerly stored in the Queen's library have been scattered. The shelves today hold a deposit from the National Library of France, composed of 18th century works, of royal origin, selected for their binding in red morocco. Some books with the arms of Queen Marie-Antoinette were nevertheless able to return to the site, in particular the two acquisitions made in 2019: an Office of the Virgin, printed in 1771 by Michel Lambert, and Les Lacunes de la philosophie, by François Louis d ' Escherny, published in 1783. (Read more.)
Faux bookshelf disguising a door panel
More on the Queen's library, HERE. Marie-Antoinette also had a library at Petit Trianon, HERE and HERE.

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