Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Scenes from Versailles

The photo above is a detail from a very familiar painting, an exact copy made for Versailles of his original hanging in the Louvre, Jacques Louis David's The Coronation of Napoleon. Everything in this copy is identical to the original except for this one interesting detail; whereas in the original, all five (number five is cut off in my photo) women are wearing white, this woman, Napoleon's sister, Pauline, with whom David was in love, is highlighted in this copy at Versailles by having her dress painted a peach color.

The grand trees at Versailles, every one of which has been catalogued carefully as to its origins and age.

I did a double take when I walked by this one, Laocoön and His Sons is one of my favorite sculptures, but it resides in the Vatican. I took a closer look at the placard and realized that it was one of the many copies of the original which had been unearthed in Rome in the early 1500s. This particular copy at Versailles was done in 1696 by Jean-Baptiste Tuby, Philibert Vigier, and Jean Rousselet.

Here's the original along with some interesting facts (note the difference in positioning of the right arm in both works):

From Wikipedia: "When the statue was discovered, Laocoön's right arm was missing, along with the hand of one child and the right arm of the other. Artists and connoisseurs debated how the missing parts should be interpreted. Michelangelo suggested that the missing right arms were originally bent back over the shoulder. Others, however, believed it was more appropriate to show the right arms extended outwards in a heroic gesture. The Pope held an informal contest among sculptors to make replacement right arms, which was judged by Raphael. The winner, in the outstretched position, was attached to the statue.

In 1957, however, the original right arm of Laocoön himself was found in a builder's yard in Rome, and was in the position which had been suggested by Michelangelo. The arm has now been rejoined to the statue. There are many copies of the statue, including a well-known one in the Grand Palace of the Knights of St. John in Rhodes. Many still show the arm in the outstretched position. The copy in Rhodes has been corrected." Clearly, the copy at Versailles has not.

The young and ill-fated Marie Antoinette

The fountains at Versailles which only run on the weekends and during the high-season. Because approximately 80% of the original pumping system is still in use, they are not on continuously but only for short durations.


Stephanie said...

That's fascinating. I don't think I would have noticed the difference in the arm position - how neat that you caught the distinction.

Mama T said... are too kind and give me too much credit; I noticed that the statue was a replica, but as far as the distinction, I only looked at the hand again once I went to Wikipedia to do some research as to the history of replicas on the piece and found that fascinating bit of info! I find it amazing, they even dug up that arm over 400 years later!