Sunday, August 28, 2011

Petit Trianon: The Queen's Theatre

Interior of Le Théâtre de la Reine. Photo by Denise of The Swelle Life
The plain facades and the little entrance of the edifice contrasted with the ravishing interior of the building in shades of gold and blue.  Apollo with the Graces and the Muses, a painting by the artist Lagrenée, decorated the ceiling.  Deschamps was responsible for the sculptures and the bas-reliefs.  However, to save some money and to mollify the impatience of Marie-Antoinette, all sculptures were in papier-mâché.  From floor to ceiling, everything was painted in trompe l'oeil.

How fortunate we are that this gem managed to survive the revolution, more or less intact, as the mob considered it to be of little value.  As with Marie Antoinette's Private Apartments in Versailles, The Queen's Theatre was a collaboration between Marie Antoinette & Richard Mique.  Built in 1780 and located on the grounds of the Petit Trianon, it followed the social trend started by Madame Pompadour that saw small, private theatres adorning large country estates.

The Queen, an enthusiastic performer since her childhood, enlisted family & friends as her castmates while the King was reportedly a very keen member of the audience.  Plays were performed and operas were sung; the joys of  the simple, country life often dictating the theme.  It was a theme which Marie Antoinette would also persue in building the Queen's Hamlet adjacent to the Petit Trianon as she expanded her romantic role of the comely peasant girl from the stage further into her real life.

Marie-Antoinette and the Last Garden at Versailles
See more of Denise's Versailles Series: Le Théâtre de la Reine  including some great photos of the restored theatre.

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