Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Restoration of the Queen’s Grove

The Queen’s Grove was originally designed to be far less manicured than the French-style landscaping that surrounds it. (Courtesy Palace of Versailles)
Marie-Antoinette and her children
From Architectural Digest:
With more than 2,000 acres of ground and a 2,300-room palace, the Château de Versailles requires a lot of maintenance. It stands to reason, then, that some areas of the estate might need to wait quite some time to be restored to their original grandeur. Case in point: Marie Antoinette’s private garden, known as the Queen’s Grove, which has languished since her untimely death—not to mention the major damage sustained during the great storm of 1999, which saw some 15,000 trees uprooted across the estate. But a grand $2 million, multiyear restoration is finally under way, having begun this past winter.

The garden, located just to the west of the Orangerie, was originally a labyrinth installed by Louis XIV in the mid-17th century, but by the time Marie Antoinette resided at Versailles in the mid-18th century, it had fallen out of fashion and into disrepair. The queen hired architect Michel-Barthélemy Hazon to redesign the plot, not in the classic linear French style of the rest of Versailles’ grounds, but inspired by the more natural English gardens that were en vogue across the Channel—these gardens were to be her private sanctuary rather than a reminder of strict court life. “In the Grove, Marie Antoinette was free to wander and relax,” says Abbie McLean, a Versailles tour guide with The Tour Guy. “She was actually afforded privacy in this area, which did not exist in the Court of Versailles.” (Read more.)

From The Architect's Newspaper:
Using archaeological research and original documents, the restoration will revert the garden to its original condition, including reintroducing original plant species as well as reproductions of the sculptures and furniture elements that were once scattered across the site. With the entirely of the Palace of Versailles closed to the public due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the restoration team has already planted period-accurate tulip trees at its center and, according to the property’s website, will be followed by a replanting of the various plant species along the perimeter before being completed in 2022. (Read more.) 

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