Aulica Coll. No 2 - Les grandes galeries européennes, XVIIe-XIXe siècles

Les grandes galeries européennes, XVIIe-XIXe siècles (publication from the international symposium held on 13, 14, 15 December 2007 at the Palace of Versailles), directed by Claire Constans and Mathieu da Vinha, joint publication Centre de recherche du château de Versailles / Éditions de la Maison des sciences de l’homme (“Aulica” Collection) September 2010, 17 x 24 cm, 430 p., 52 black & white illustrations, 24 colour plates, index, €45 (ISBN: 978-2-7351-1312-5).


Everyone knows the Grande Galerie of Versailles, better known as the Galerie des Glaces (Hall of Mirrors); but few know that it was used in turn and sometimes simultaneously as a waiting room, a ballroom, a place for hosting official receptions, a hospital, a room where political treaties were signed, etc. And this is only one of a number of examples… As the first comprehensive study of the complex theme of the galleries of royal residences and aristocratic mansions throughout Europe (in France, Spain, Great Britain, etc.), this book approaches it from different angles, all based on archive documents, drawings, engravings and inventories which explain or describe what still exists and what had disappeared. This public passage, called a ’gallery’ in some countries or sometimes a simple ’saal’ (room) as in Germany, was also used for private purposes while remaining a space for staging events, where the glory of the sovereign or the owner was highlighted by the etiquette and also by the iconographic, historical or allegorical decoration that could even invite the prince to practice Virtue. The figures of Abundance and Prosperity, in the fresco by Tiepolo in the grand throne room of the royal palace in Madrid, were there to remind him of this. Finally, the gallery was where the sovereign or the owner liked to display his collections. His political agenda was served by their importance and artistic quality, at times writing or rewriting history, just as prints and engravings were published to impress the intellectual elite. In this respect, the gallery, in its layout and the quality of its artworks, could be considered the forerunner of today’s museum.

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Book reviews

Read Pascale Mormiche’s review published online 16 December 2010 on Clionautes (in French).

Read Aurélien Davrius’ review published online 24 May 2012 on Histara (in French).

Read Françoise Bercé’s presentation of the book in Monumental 2011 - n°2 (in French):

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