The gilded silver jug (China, around 1680-1685) given to Louis XIV by the ambassadors of Siam during their visit to Versailles on 1st September 1686 has now been acquired by the palace of Versailles.
With this exceptional acquisition, made possible by the patronage of LVMH, a precious object of significant historical, scientific and artistic value has been added to the national public collections. The Ministry of Culture has classified this silver jug as a National Treasure, which is on display in the Hall of mirrors.
The ambassadors of Siam's visit to Versailles in 1686 was one of the most sumptuous events of Louis XIV's reign. It testifies to the flurry of diplomatic activity that took place at the palace of Versailles during the 17th century. This jug, a present from King Phra Naraï or his minister, Constantine Phaulkon, is the only known silver item among the countless gifts given on this occasion. This piece is one of the rare silver works among the collections of Louis XIV that escaped being melted down either to add to the Royal finances or during the time when silver objects were melted down during the French Revolution. This silver jug, gilded with gold flowers (peonies, lotuses, etc.), birds, butterflies and pagodas, features a handle and long spout that resemble wood and bamboo.
The jug was first listed in the Royal Furniture Treasury’s inventory in 1697 and was again listed several times during the 18th century before being sold in 1797. During the first half of the 19th century it belonged to the family of Terray de Morel-Vindé, a direct descendant of Pierre Terray, brother of Abbot Terray, the Controller-General of Finances under Louis XV from 1769 to 1774.
The restoration process
The jug was restored to recover its original shine.
The jug will be presented to the public in the Hall of Mirrors beginning on 15 September 2018, at the very spot where it was first given to Louis XIV as a diplomatic gift.
This acquisition was made possible by the patronage of LVMH.
Also on the subject of the ambassadors of Siam
The Palace of Versailles is offering a virtual reality experience with the application “Experience Versailles”, created with Fondation Orange, which allows visitors to relive the visit by the Ambassador of Siam to the Court of Louis XIV in 1686 and the Yew Ball held by Louis XV.
From 6 October 2018 to 4 February 2019, the Palace of Versailles will be holding a major exhibition devoted for the first time to Louis Philippe I and his decision to convert the former royal residence of Versailles into a museum dedicated to the history of France, inaugurated in 1837.
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