Thursday, April 21, 2011

Le Petit Trianon

Le Petit Trianon (The Petite Trianon) was built between 1762 ~ 1768 ~ by architect Anges-Jacques Gabriel for Madame de Pompadour, King Louis XV’s favorite mistress. Madame de Pompadour’s goal was to create a getaway that would relieve the King’s boredom.

Jeanne-Antoinette Poisson, Marquise de Pompadour, painted around 1756 by François Boucher.
Sadly, Madame died four years before its completion and her successor, Madame du Barry became its occupant. Her enjoyment was also short lived as the King died from smallpox in May of 1774 and she was quickly exiled to the Abbaye du Pont-aux-Dames.

  Madame du Barry painted by Elisabeth Vigee~ Lebrun.

This grand respite was then passed on to Louis XVI’s 19 year old Queen, Marie Antoinette, upon his ascension to the throne in 1774. It was Queen Marie Antoinette that truly left her mark on this piece of architectural majesty. It had been designed in the then fashionable Greek-style and features several classical design elements also known as the Neoclassical style. Petit Trianon is visible from all sides, which was a popular feature in architecture that was built at the end of the 18th century. The four sides are all visually different. The most sumptuous side faces the French Garden.

The Queen came often to Le Petit Trianon to escape the formality of court life. At Versailles, she was under constant pressure and judgment from the King’s family as well as the court. It is interesting to note that "de par la Reine" (by order of the Queen), no one was permitted to visit the Petit Trianon property without the Queen's permission. Yes, that included the King. However, the alienation of certain members of the jealous court would eventually lead to her downfall during the French Revolution.

But who could blame her for wanting to keep this lovely home as her own secluded retreat?
The Petit Trianon 

Throughout the gardens are lovely bits of bliss such as the Pavillon Français (French Pavilion).

The Belvedere, a small classical pavilion requested by the Queen and built by her architect Richard Mique between 1778 ~1781, was used as a teahouse by Marie Antoinette.

The delightful interior space was painted by Hubert Robert.
The Queen also commissioned the architect Mique to design and build this lovely Neo-classical structure, the Temple of Love,  in 1778. It was here October 5, 1789 she learned that the French Revolution had reached the outskirts of Versailles and that she should return to Paris immediately.

It is quite evident that Marie loved her Temple as it appears in the background of several paintings, such as this one by Nikklas Lafrensen which commemorated a party on June 21, 1784 held in honor of Gustave III, King of Sweden. 
This painting, by Adolf Ulrich Wertmuller, shows the Queen with her two eldest children. The Temple is in the upper right background.
Here the Royal family appears in a painting in which the Temple of Love also can be seen in the background. I am unsure of the artist. Anyone?

Now let’s take a peek inside the Petit Trianon.

Did you notice the lovely door handle?

Not to mention the elaborately carved wall paneling also known as “boiseries”.

On the first floor, the main room was a living room used for games and music~ especially in the days of Marie-Antoinette, who was famous for her musical abilities.

1774 painting of the Queen by Jean-Baptiste Gautier Dagoty

Honoré Guibert carved the trophies of music on the boiseries which was decorated with King Louis XV’s monogram. It featured two “L’s” in myrtle leaves entwined with three natural fleurs-de-lis under a crown of roses. The imposing mantle is made of purple breccia (large fragments of clastic sedimentary rock ~ or a large rock made out of smaller rocks).  

The textiles used were a “three-color damask” from Lyon which was often used in Royal palaces during the 18th century.


Look at the gilded music stand. Gorgeous!

Also on the first floor is the Salle à manger (dining room) which features finely carved boiseries (ornate and intricately carved wood paneling) that are without gilding (gold leaf) to complement the bleu Turquin (blue Italian marble) mantle.


It should be noted that the dining room was designed so that the dining table could mechanically lowered and raised through the floorboards so that the servants would not be seen. While the table was never built, the delineation for the mechanical device can still be seen from the foundation.

The Queen’s bedroom, known as the “Trellis” room,  is the last area on the first floor. Honoré Guibert had created the paneling with a botanical feel. A mahogany table made by Schwerdfeger is adorned with a frieze of sunflowers and thistle leaves. Dogs’ heads, representing the Queen’s pets, add a charming detail.
Marie-Antoinette's bedroom

Here is a close up of one of the original chairs. Bonnefoy du Plan oversaw the creation of the furniture pieces which featured carved and painted trellises, basketwork, floral forms and rustic garlands. The furniture is called “wheat-ear” furniture, so named for lily-of-the-valley, pinecones, and ears of wheat found in the design.

The third floor is known as the Mezzanine and was for the Queen’s staff. Pretty posh digs for servants.

The attic is in no way, shape or form a traditional attic. It was designed as a series of bedchambers and quarters for the Lords of the suite, although Louis XVI never slept there. However his sister, Madame Elisabeth, did use the space as well as Marie-Therese-Charlotte, who was known as “Madame Royale”, and the daughter of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette.
The Attic

What I believe is the piece de resistance of Le Petit Trianon is the Théâtre de la Reine (the Queen’s little theatre). The lovely little theatre was built for her between 1778-1779. The interior features decorative pasteboard sculptures, a gold-embroidered blue silk taffeta curtain and a huge stage with incidentally is larger than the auditorium itself. Here she performed pieces by her favorite authors for her inner circle and to delight the King.

A fabulous book, if you are interested in learning more, is “Marie Antoinette and the Last Garden at Versailles” by Christian Duvernois.

Andrea and I will be leaving for France next Friday. We may or may not post during our two week shopping and research trip for Metis Linens and Tours
We are of course hoping for a “Bon Voyage”,
Andrea and Laura


Linking to:

French Cupboard

French Country Cottage

Common Ground

The Charm of Home

My Romantic Home


Unknown said...

enjoyable post
and happy hunting
of course
as you already know
now is the moment
to 'chiner'
here in france
bon voyage


Mom in High Heels said...

Beautiful post! I have loads of photos of The Temple of Love. I'm thinking I need to go to Versailles again! Too bad I can't come over while you two are in France. I'd love to shop with you, but I don't think I can leave Han Solo just yet.

Mary Grace McNamara said...

Very interesting to read about a lifestyle that is so different from anything we will ever know! Happy and safe travels and good hunting! Can't wait to read all about your trip upon your return!


The Charm of Home said...

How beautiful! I love the theater, the gardens, that chair. Oh how stunning. Thanks for the glimpse of the life of royalty again. Have a lovely Easter! Thanks for linking up!


Stunning...such scrumptious and luxurious palace! I love the post bed, so elegant. That chair is gorgeous and what can I say about the gardens, but my goodness, how spectacular! Thanks for sharing this loveliness.
Have a sweet Easter.

French said...

Yeah....we're goin' to Versailles...and loads of other great places. One week!

24 Corners said...

This post was so informative & beautiful...I was completely immersed in all the exquisite details, history and experiences, thank you! I hope to be able to visit one day.
Have a lovely trip...
xo J~

Karena said...

Laura I adore this post it is wonderful! I love to read about the loves and times the the royals It si so fascinating and intriguing!

I know you and Andrea are so excited!! Have fun!

Art by Karena

Terri said...

Thank you for sharing this tour. I have been here before, and it is wonderful to see the photos and be reminded of it. My two favorite places were Marie's bedchamber and her theater.

Karen said...

What a lovely and interesting post. I love history and this was so fun to read. Thank you! Have a successful and delightful trip.

V I N T A G E O L O G I E said...

Every detail is amazing ... thank you fro the tour, I've enjoyed myself!
Have a safe and fun trip!


Lorrie said...

Le Petit Trianon is my favorite part of Versailles. I have photos similar to the ones you've shown. It's a beautiful, serene place, a perfect retreat for a queen in the public's eye.

Laura, je te souhaite un très bon voyage.

Anonymous said...

Laura what a fabulous post! Thank you for all your knowledge on this beautiful estate!

Wish I would be a mouse in your pocket on your trip!! Have a ton of fun!

bee blessed

Beadboard UpCountry said...

Laura this was informtive, entertaining and visually obscenely beautiful... You really did your homework on this one. Thanks this made my day...Just delightful. READ every word. Happy Easter! Maryanne xo

Courtney ~ French Country Cottage said...

This is so inspiring~ love learning more and seeing your beautiful photos! Thanks for sharing at FNF! :)

Maija said...

I just LOVED it there! I hope you are enjoying your French adventure!!