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"Hall of Mirrors" at Versailles restored (re Dutch wars)

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  • Terry Foreman
    http://in.today.reuters.com/News/newsArticle.aspx?type=entertainmentNews&storyID=2007-06-25T235456Z_01_NOOTR_RTRMDNC_0_India-281700-1.xml France reveals
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 25, 2007
      http://in.today.reuters.com/News/newsArticle.aspx?type=entertainmentNews&storyID=2007-06-25T235456Z_01_NOOTR_RTRMDNC_0_India-281700-1.xml

      France reveals restored Versailles Hall of Mirrors
      Mon Jun 25, 2007 11:57 PM IST135

      By James Mackenzie

      PARIS (Reuters) - One of France's most brilliant architectural showpieces,
      the Hall of Mirrors in the Palace of Versailles, revealed its face on
      Monday after a painstaking restoration to remove layers of accumulated grime.

      "The Hall of Mirrors is the heart of the Palace of Versailles," said
      Frederic Didier, chief architect of France's historical monuments.

      "It's an absolutely magical place and one of the main impacts of this
      restoration is to bring the life back to the heart of the Palace."

      The Hall, built in 1684 on the orders of the "Sun King" Louis XIV, was
      intended from the beginning as a dazzling setting to project the power and
      majesty of the French monarchy.

      The gallery witnessed both the proclamation of the German Empire in 1871
      after the Franco-Prussian War and the signing of the Treaty of Versailles
      that formally ended World War One.

      The decor is a high point of European art in the 17th century, a period
      when France's power was at its height.

      But over the years, the gold-coated stucco and mirrors had become tarnished
      and the luminous colouring of the paintings had darkened.

      "The last restoration was 50 years ago, and it was showing worrying signs
      of age," said Didier.

      "It's the first time we've had the chance to restore the Hall in its
      entirety and to give it back a unity and coherence that it had lost for a
      very long time."

      Around 100 restorers and technicians worked for three years to clean up the
      site in a 12 million euro ($16 million) project funded by the French
      construction group Vinci.

      "We worked on everything," said Didier. "We changed the parquet to hide the
      technical installations, we restored the marble and the bronzes, the
      mirrors and of course, the stucco and paintings on the ceilings."

      Louis XIV used the gallery for particularly important ceremonial occasions,
      as well as for balls in which hundreds of courtiers crammed onto its
      parquet floor.

      "Louis XIV wanted to give what he saw as the superiority of the French
      monarchy above all others an appropriate setting," said Jean-Jacques
      Aillagon, head of the body that runs the palace.

      The 73-metre-long hall is dominated by a vaulted ceiling covered with
      paintings by the artist Charles Le Brun that depict a series of Louis XIV's
      triumphs against the Dutch and other enemies as well as far-sighted
      administrative measures.

      The ceiling paintings and the walls are framed in elaborate gilded
      decorations, and a wall panel of 357 mirrors reflects the vast palace
      gardens seen through the windows opposite to give the hall its name.

      "It's a mixture of political projection and fantastic artistic
      intelligence," said Aillagon.


      © Reuters 2007. All Rights Reserved.

      Terry
      aka Terry F
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