Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Apollo On Ice, Palace of Versailles, France

Apollo On Ice, Palace of Versailles

I must admit I was not prepared for the grandeur on display at the Palace of Versailles. The size, scale, and opulence of the place is quite overwhelming when seen for the first time.

Once the home to generations of Kings and Queens of France, the Palace of Versailles stands as a stark reminder of the many excesses of King Louis XIV (14th) in particular, and that of his heirs and successors. Excesses which became exposed for all to see with the onset of the French Revolution in 1789.

It’s not just the 700 rooms, the 6,000+ paintings, 1,500 drawings, and more than 15,000 engravings. Nor is it the sight of 2,100 sculptures and around 5,200 pieces of furniture and objets d’art, which overwhelms. No, it is all these and more. Including the 800 hectares of woodlands, landscaped gardens, fountains, Grand Canals, and many nooks and hidden corners, which surround the main Palace building. Then there are the Grand Trianon, Marie-Antoinette’s estate, numerous copses and groves, fountains and open-air salons, the King’s Garden, the Apollo Baths, the Ornamental Lake of The Dragon, and other locations large and small.

I walked around part of the massive Palace grounds on a freezing December day, with the snow crunching underfoot, a light mist clinging to the ground, and my warm breath hanging in the air.

I took many photographs that day under a dark, grey sky, and the image I’ve selected for this post captures that setting very well. In the image we see the Sun god Apollo, mounted on his chariot, emerging from the frozen waters of the Apollo Fountain (located in the Grand Canal). The horses themselves seem to be springing out of the icy water, following close on the heels of the bugler leading them.

The work of Tuby, after a drawing by the French artist, Le Brun, this monumental sculpture was designed and cast between 1668 and 1670, then transported to Versailles and installed and gilded the following year.

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