Monday, September 13, 2021

The King’s Menagerie: The Sun King’s Animal Kingdom at Versailles

From France Today:

From the Palace of Versailles, King Louis XIV commanded not only the kingdom of France but also the kingdom of animals. In the world-famous gardens, he created an extraordinary menagerie of beasts, a living, breathing allegory for the Sun King’s power over all he surveyed.

Many noble French households collected exotic animals in order to impress their visitors: Charlemagne and Louis IX both kept elephants at court; while the Duke of Anjou not only owned an elephant, but lions, camels, and monkeys. Some kept their collection of beasts frighteningly close to home – Francis I slept with a snow leopard at the foot of his bed. (Read more.)


How the English fell in love with Versailles. From Country Life:

English visitors also admired Versailles for the opportunities it provided to watch the royal family dine in public and attend Mass in the royal chapel (Fig 7). Also in 1749, a naval officer called Augustus Hervey, despite having recently been fighting France, wrote in his diary that he derived ‘uninterrupted pleasure’ from watching the royal family’s dinner, following the royal hunt, going to supper with French friends, and admiring the fireworks at ‘that pile of magnificence and grandeur’, Versailles (Fig 5). He ‘received such an idea of the grandeur of the French court that I had a very pitiful opinion of our own at Saint James’s, nor have I ever altered my opinion, though later so much in it and so long of it’. (Read more.)


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