On the 300th anniversary of the death of Louis XIV, the Palace of Versailles and Arthus-Bertrand have joined forces to launch an exceptional collection of medals and tokens.
A brand-new collection of 17 medals
The 17 medals are all either an exact reproduction of those in the Palace’s numismatic collection or creations based on a reinterpretation of ancient engravings. The medals, which have been created in gold plated or silver plated bronze, display portraits of the kings and queens of France, from Louis XIV to Marie-Antoinette, and also illustrate key events such as the first aerostatic flight, or symbolic locations such as the Chapel Royal. Identical reproductions of 3 tokens have also been produced. Unlike medals, collector’s objects intended to “preserve the portraits of illustrious men or the memory of […]an event” (Trévoux’s dictionary, 177), tokens were originally utilitarian and could have several uses: they could be used in place of money at a gaming table, be offered as a gift, or provide evidence of military service.
The medals’ cabinet
As well as their artistic dimension, these medals and tokens are real records of the history of Versailles: although Louis XIV’s medals’ cabinet, formerly in the king’s apartments, no longer exists today, his collections, which were added to by Louis XV and Louis-Philippe, survive, passing onto us illustrations and portraits of their era.
The expertise of arthus-bertrand
Using a mixture of age-old expertise and modern techniques, Arthus-Bertrand has devoted very particular care to the creation of each medal. From moulding in plaster to varnishing, the medal passes through numerous stages, striking, heating and milling, before being finished and placed in the “Kings medal cabinet”, reproduced in the Librairie des Princes.
After more than three years of restoration work, the Queen’s State Apartment is being reopened to the public, providing a great opportunity to revisit three of the Palace of Versailles’ key female characters: Marie-Antoinette, who lived in the Queen’s State Apartment, Marie Leszczynska and Madame de Maintenon.