The National Gallery of Australia presents an extravagant new exhibition of treasures from the House of Bourbon.

Next summer, Australians will be able to experience the splendour of Versailles in an exclusive exhibition at the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra. The Palace of Versailles is one of France’s foremost tourist attractions. Conceived by the extravagant French Royal Louis XIV in 1682, the palace is a masterpiece of the luxurious French Baroque style, now famed for its lavish interiors as well as its stature as a museum, art gallery and opera theatre. Working with the French Government and the Palace of Versailles, the NGA plans to open a major exhibition in December capturing the opulence of this architectural wonder.

 The Hall of Mirrors, one of the most lavish rooms at the Palace of Versailles

Originally built as a hunting lodge by King Louis XIII, the château at Versailles was expanded into a vast Royal Palace, with extensive gardens, by his son, Louis XIV. The palace would transform the small village of Versailles, located on the outskirts of Paris, into the centre of political power in France. It was decorated and substantially expanded by a century of royal inhabitants, including the infamous Marie Antoinette who added a private theatre. The palace remained the seat of French power up until the Revolution of 1789. Versailles was host to masked balls, theatre, opera, concerts, sumptuous feasts and fireworks. It is still a home for the performing arts today, with operas by Mozart, Lully and Boismortier programmed in the Royal Opera Theatre this year.

At this stage the NGA is keeping a tight lid on the details of the exhibition, but NGA’s Director Gerard Vaughan said of the upcoming exhibition, “We are very excited to be working with Versailles to bring exclusively to Canberra a truly astonishing exhibition and look forward to sharing more details in coming months.” Full details of the exhibition are due in coming months. 

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