The Mercury Salon
Originally, the Mercury Salon was the parade chamber of the Grand Apartment, hence its name of "bedchamber", even though this bed was quickly removed in winter in order to free up the space and install the gaming tables. Until 1689, when Louis XIV had to bring himself to have them melted down to finance the war of the League of Augsburg, tables, mirrors, andirons and chandeliers in solid silver, magnificently carved by the Gobelins silversmiths, decorated walls, ceilings and mantelpiece. A balustrade, also in silver, separated the alcove from the rest of the room. Brocade – fabric woven with gold and silver thread – lined the walls as well as the bed, but they in turn were sent to the Mint, this time to support the Spanish War of Succession. One of the rare times when the Mercury Salon served as a room was on the occasion of the proclamation of the Duke of Anjou, the grandson of Louis XIV, as King of Spain: the young prince slept here for three weeks, before going to his new country. It was also in this room that, from 2 to 10 September 1715, the mortal remains of Louis lay in state.
The War of the League of Augsburg, also called the "nine year war", was triggered in 1688 by France’s occupation of the Palatinate. In light of that action, the Empire, the Netherlands and Spain allied themselves to challenge the kingdom on its pretentions to the inheritance of Madame, the sister-in-law of Louis XIV and the Princess Palatine. This conflict, the biggest of Louis XIV’s reign, ended with the cession of Strasbourg to France, on 30 October1697. The Spanish War of Succession d’Espagne followed Louis XIV’s acceptance of the will of Charles II who, having died without an heir, appointed the Duke of Anjou as his successor at the head of all of Spain’s possessions and thus preferred the Bourbon dynasty to that of the Habsburgs from which he descended.
The ceiling painted by Jean-Baptiste de Champaigne represents Mercury on his chariot drawn by two cocks. The mouldings are decorated with four paintings: on the left, on the side of the Mars Salon, Augustus receiving an embassy f Indians; at the rear, opposite the windows, Ptolemaeus Philadelphia in his library; on the right, on the window side, Alexander and Aristotle who receives from this prince various foreign animals whose history he writes. The bed which can be seen now is the one which Louis-Philippe had installed in the King’s chamber when Versailles was transformed into a museum.
This room was restored recently. Learn more