The Grande Galerie (La Grande Galerie in French), as it was called in the 17th century, served daily as a passageway and a waiting and meeting place, frequented by courtiers and the visiting public.
After the victory over the three united powers, represented in the Salon de la Guerre (War Room) and cited on the previous page, the gallery’s seventy-three metres glorified the political, economic and artistic success of France. Political success is demonstrated by thirty compositions in the arch painted by Le Brun, which illustrate the glorious history of Louis XIV in the first eighteen years of his government, from 1661 until the Peace of Nijmegen. Military and diplomatic victories, as well as reforms in view of the reorganisation of the kingdom, are portrayed in the form of antique allegories. Economic prosperity is demonstrated by the dimensions and quantity of the three hundred and fifty-seven mirrors that decorate the seventeen arches opposite the windows, attesting that the new French production of mirrors, which at the time were luxury objects, is capable of stealing the monopoly away from Venice. Artistic success: the Rance marble pilasters decorated with a model of gilded bronze capitals called “French order”; created by Le Brun at the request of Colbert, this new model represents national emblems: a fleur de lys topped by a royal sun between two French cockerels.
The Grand Gallery (La Grande Galerie in French), as it was called in the 17th century, was used daily by courtiers and visitors for passing through, waiting and for meeting people. It was only used for ceremonies on exceptional occasions, when sovereigns wanted to lend splendour to diplomatic receptions, or distractions (balls or games) on the occasion of princely weddings. For the first, the throne was installed on a podium at the end of the hall, next to the Salon de la Paix (Peace Room) with its closed arch. The show of power rarely reached such a degree of ostentation; thus, the doge of Genoa in 1685 and the ambassadors of Siam (1686), Persia (1715), and the Ottoman Empire (1742) had to cross the entire hall, watched by the Court gathered on each side of the terraces! There were also the wedding celebrations of the Duke of Burgundy, grandson of Louis XIV, in 1697, of the son of Louis XV in 1745 and the masked ball for the wedding of Marie-Antoinette and the Dauphin, the future Louis XVI, in May 1770. It was also here that the treaty of Versailles was signed on 28th June 1919, which sealed the end of the First World War. Since then, the presidents of the Republic of France continue to receive the official hosts of France here.
The Hall of Mirrors was restored in 2007 thanks to the sponsorship of skills of the company Vinci, great sponsor of the Ministry of Culture and Communication.