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Paris Art Studies - Château de Versailles – Chronology



1623 – Louis XIII buys a property in Versailles from  Jean de Soisy. The land had been in the family since the 14th century. He has a hunting lodge built of brick with slate roofs and surrounded by a moat. The Queen Mother, Marie de Medici and the Queen, Anne of Austria occasionally visit the King at the lodge but never stay overnight.

1631-34 – The building is enlarged by the architect Philibert le Roy with the addition of two wings forming the first courtyard (current cour de marbre).

1632 – Louis XIII purchases the entire domain of Versailles surrounding his estate from Jean-François de Gondi archbishop of Paris. The gardens are extended and replanted.

1643 – Death of Louis XIII.

1651 – Louis XIV visits Versailles for the first time since his advent to the throne.

1660 - Louis XIV visits Versailles in the company of the Queen Marie Thèrese.

1661-62 – Louis XIV employs Louis Le Vau to embellish and extend the château and André Le Notre to plant the great gardens. 100 000 livres are spent on these improvements. Versailles is still considered a country residence for the pleasure of the King, the official seat of the court is at the Louvre in Paris.

1664 – First court festivities held at Versailles: Les Plaisirs de l’Ile Enchantée ostensibly in honor of the Queen Mother, Anne of Austria, but in fact in homage to new royal mistress Louise de La Vallière.

1664-66 – The refurbishment of the interior allows the King to occasionally bring the Royal Council to the château.

1665 – The first statues by Girardon and Le Hongre are placed in the gardens, creation of the grotto of Tethis.

1667 – Beginning off the digging of the great canal. The Francine family is in charge of the hydraulics of the basins and fountains.

1668 – Second great celebration held in Versailles: “Grand Divertissement Royal de Versailles ». The lack of room for the guests to stay overnight during these celebrations will lead Louis to decide the much greater extension of the château.

1668-70 – Construction of the first “Envelope” by Louis Le Vau around the existing building on the garden side in the form of a “U”.  A great terrace is added to provide a fine view of the gardens. On the courtyard side a wrought iron balcony on pink marble columns, Roman busts and balustrades are added to the original Louis XIII front. The courtyard is paved in black and white marble. The courtyard is extended and a new gilded Royal grill is built. The château triples in size. On the garden side the new façades are entirely in stone with flat classical roofs, they are the “château neuf”. An Ionic order decorates the first floor and a small Corinthian the attic. On the courtyard side the “château vieux” preserves the old brick elevations and steep roofs.

1670 – Death of Le Vau. Work continues under the direction for François d’Orbay. Building of the “Trianon de Porcelaine” in the park as a refuge for the King from the enlarged château. 14 hôtels particuliers are erected in the new town of Versailles by the great nobles.

1678 – Louis XIV decides to make the château the principal residence of his court and seat of government.  He orders the further extension of the building which will be undertaken by the new architect Jules Hardouin Mansart.

Beginning of the Hall of Mirrors (galerie des glaces) decorated by the painter Charles Le Brun on the site of the original terrace. 73 m long it is bordered on the north by the Salon of War and on the south by the Salon of Peace. The King’s private apartment is moved into the old château on the courtyard side, liberating the garden fronts for the great public rooms of the château, the “Grand Appartement”. Building of the “Aile du Midi” or south wing for the lodging of the courtiers. Digging of the Swiss guards’ pond and beginning of the new south gardens and Orangerie.

1679 – An extra story with a clock framed by Mars and Hercules is added to the courtyard front. D’Orbay begins the Staircase of the Queen opposite the original Staircase of the Ambassadors. Building of the new minister’s pavilions in extended courtyard. Beginning of the Great and Small stables.

1681 – The decoration of the Great Apartment under the direction of Charles Le Brun is completed. The Marly pump on the Seine is completed bringing much need water to the gardens.

1682 – Louis XIV orders the removal of the court to Versailles. Inauguration of the south wing. The Hall of Mirrors is still under scaffolding.

1685-89 – 3000 trees and 150 000 flower shrubs are added to the Orangerie. The north wing of the château, the stables and the “communs  - kitchens, guards’ and servants’ quarters south of the courtyard - are completed.  On the garden side the full length of the building including the new south and north wings is now 670m. Around 30 000 workers and 6000 horses are still busily working on the château in 1684. Creation by Mansart of new bosquets in the gardens (Salle de bal, Colonnade).

1686 – The decoration of the Hall of Mirrors is completed.

1687 – The King orders the replacement of the Trianon de Porcelaine by a more permanent building, the future “Grand Trianon”.

1698 – 1710 – Building of the Royal chapel finished by Robert de Cotte. Vaults painted by Charles de la Fosse and Jouvenet.

1701 – Transformation of the King’s private apartment, building of chambre de l’Oeil de Boeuf.

1715 – Death of Louis XIV. The court leaves Versailles for the Tuileries palace in Paris.




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