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Versailles, ordre et chaos

Michel Jeanneret

There is an Apollo version of Versailles– the one we know, marked by the love of the Sun King for the “la Montespan” or for the duchesse of La Vallière – but there is also a Dyonisus version of Versailles, marked by violence and chaos. Such is the thesis defended by Michel Jeanneret, who uses with well rounded out arguments. First there is the work itself – to move earth like a Titan – which makes the former pleasure castle of Louis XIII look like a “cesspool” according to Saint-Simon. There is also all that decorative program that is not so typically Grand Siècle after all with its statues of satyrs brutally carrying away the nymphs, the Colérique by Jacques Houzau or those monstrous frogs in the Bassin de Latone. And last but not least there the confusion of threatening and hurling water, -the Grandes Eaux-, the parades of flaming giants, the ballets where the king played the role of a libertine, in the midst of the hunchbacks and cripples of the Court. A stimulating vision for it puts into doubt the cliché of classic order and elegance …

Versailles, ordre et chaos by Michel Jeanneret, Gallimard, 2012, 384 p., €38

Versailles, ordre et chaos - Michel Jeanneret

Review published in the newsletter #289 - from 7 February 2013 to 13 February 2013

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