Discover the groves of Versailles, and the fountains whose jets of water rise and fall in time to the music.
Louis XIV wanted to create something monumental: his skilful harnessing of the talents of the greatest artists of his time led, over a period of some fifty years, to the creation of a unique palace. Symbol and seat of a triumphant monarchy, Versailles was a political as much as an artistic phenomenon. In a society where the appearance of a king so closely resembled the image of a god, all the arts were called upon to help further the « reputation » of Louis XIV. Bringing together the most outstanding French and Italian artists, the King set about putting France at the forefront of the artistic creation of the day. Architecture by Le Vau, Hardouin Mansart and De Cotte, music by Lully, Charpentier, Marais, Couperin and Lalande, the literature of Molière, Quinault and Racine, paintings by Lebrun, sculpture by Coysevox and Bernini, the Gardens of Le Nôtre, the stage machinery and decoration of Vigarani, all came together to create a masterpiece entirely in the image of the King: Versailles.
As an initiator and patron of the arts, Louis XIV made possible a flowering of new styles that would mark the artistic history of Europe for a century: French lyric tragedy, French classicism and Racinian tragedy were intimately connected with his sovereign will.
During the first two decades of the reign, a time when the château was a mere building site, it was on the gardens that the monarch lavished his entire attention, ensuring they reflected his growing and immediately legendary splendour. They were laid out over an area of more than a thousand hectares, using the most sophisticated means and at the cost of huge effort: the excavation of the Grand Canal, the construction of impressive water tanks, the installation of an amazing network of pipes to feed the fountains that brought movement and life to each sculpture, each grove.
It was the best Italian fontaineers, the Francini, who designed what to this day remains the most sumptuous « artistic » water system ever created. In line with the spirit of those who created Versailles, it must be the task of our time to nurture the arts in this exceptional venue, giving pride of place to the various works created here over a period of 200 years.
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