The "Visitors to Versailles 1682-1789 " exhibition is jointly produced by the Palace of Versailles and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It will be on display in Versailles from the 24th of October 2017 to the 25th of February 2018 and will later be held in New York from 9 April.
With nearly 10 million visitors per year in the XXIst Century, Versailles is one of the most visited historic sites in the world. The palace and gardens of Versailles have attracted visitors ever since the small hunting lodge built by Louis XIII was transformed by Louis XIV into one of the most stunning residences in Europe, open to everyone according to the King's will.
Cosmopolitan Versailles has welcomed French and foreign travellers, princes, ambassadors, artists, writers and philosophers, architects, scholars, tourists on the "Grand Tour" and day trippers from near and far. While some came to Versailles to see the King or win his favour, others were received officially by the Sovereign in the Palace, a place of intensive diplomatic activity. From the ambassadors of Siam in 1686 to the ambassadors of the Indian Kingdom of Mysore in 1788, representatives from almost every continent came to Versailles.
Each visit was an opportunity to discover beautiful national dress and the originality of the gifts visitors brought with them. Gazettes, literary journals and official memoires bore testimony to the most important visitors and the parties held in their honour.
The exhibition is the first on this subject and will turn the spotlight on these visitors through more than 300 works from the late 17th century to the French Revolution. With portraits and sculptures, Court attire, travel guides, tapestries, Sevres and Meissen porcelain, display weapons and snuffboxes, the exhibition will reveal what visitors discovered upon arriving at Versailles. It will also show the sort of welcome awaiting them, what they saw and their impressions, the gifts or memories they left with. Visitors today will discover the Palace through the eyes of those who have gone before them over the course of history.
Jointly organised by the Palace of Versailles and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the "Visitors to Versailles 1682-1789" exhibition is the first large-scale collaboration project between the two internationally-renowned cultural institutions. From the reception of Benjamin Franklin at the court of Louis XVI in 1778, to the extraordinary patronage of John D. Rockefeller Jr. in the 1920s, Versailles has always been a key location in which French and American friendship has been played out. More than 800,000 American visitors now come to admire beauty of the Estate of Versailles every year, making the USA the country that provides the largest number of foreign visitors.
- Bertrand Rondot, Head Curator at the Palace of Versailles, in charge of furniture and objets d’art
- Daniëlle Kisluk-Grosheide, Curator at the European Sculpture and Decorative Arts Department of the Metropolitan Museum of Art