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Visitors to Versailles: learn more about Sun King Louis XIV with this exhibition at The Metropolitan Museum of Art
The palace of Versailles has attracted travelers since it was transformed under the direction of the Sun King, Louis XIV (1638–1715), from a simple hunting lodge into one of the most magnificent public courts of Europe. French and foreign travelers, royalty, dignitaries and ambassadors, artists, musicians, writers and philosophers, scientists, grand tourists and day-trippers alike, all flocked to the majestic royal palace surrounded by its extensive formal gardens. Opening April 16 at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Visitors to Versailles (1682–1789) will track these many travelers from 1682, when Louis XIV moved his court to Versailles, up to 1789, when Louis XVI (1774–1792) and the royal family were forced to leave the palace and return to Paris. The exhibition is made possible by The International Council of The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Additional support is provided by the William Randolph Hearst Foundation, Beatrice Stern, the Diane W. and James E. Burke Fund, the Gail and Parker Gilbert Fund, The Florence Gould Foundation, The Danny Kaye and Sylvia Fine Kaye Foundation/French Heritage Society, and The Al Thani Collection. It is organized by The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Palace of Versailles.
Versailles was always a truly international setting. Countless visitors described their experiences and observations in correspondence and journals. Court diaries, gazettes, and literary journals offer detailed reports on specific events and entertainments as well as on ambassadorial receptions that were also documented in paintings and engravings.
Through paintings and portraits, furniture, tapestries, carpets, costumes and uniforms, porcelain, gold boxes, sculpture, arms and armor, engravings, and guidebooks, the exhibition will illustrate what the visitors encountered at court, what kind of welcome and access to the palace they received, and, most importantly, what they saw and what impressions, gifts, and souvenirs they took home with them.