Friday, November 23, 2012
Originally, the Petit Trianon was built by Louis XV for Madame de Pompadour who died before it was complete. His next official mistress, Madame Du Barry, became the first to enjoy it. It was there that he became ill with the smallpox that would, after a hasty carriage ride back to Versailles, end his life. (Louis XV had a dread of death and often said to courtiers experiencing cold symptoms, "That's a churchyard cough you have there." There's something about that line that grabs me.)
Marie Antoinette used the Petit Trianon as a place to escape from stifling Court life with it's Levée to Coucher etiquette-dictated performance on the stage of Versailles. Although he didn't stay overnight, her husband occasionally spent time there, as well. If the Marquise de Bombelles is to be believed, Louis XVI was even able to loosen up a bit. The Marquise wrote, in a letter to her husband, that she'd had to fend off the flirting King at the Trianon. I'd like to think that's true and that he had some moments of confidence and lightheartedness. Socializing didn't come easily to him, but he did have a certain innocent charm about him.
Louis XIV had purchased the land from the nuns of Abbey of Saint-Genevieve, in 1662, and the villagers who lived on it were relocated. Ironically, with the building of Le Hameau, peasants were re-introduced to the land by Marie Antoinette and it all came full circle - sort of. Now, it's basically a museum, not a peasant to be found.
Friday, November 9, 2012
Wednesday, November 7, 2012
The relationship between Marie Antoinette and her mother, Empress Maria Theresa, is well-worth exploring and some day I'll write more about it. This excerpt, from a letter Marie Antoinette wrote her mother on September 19, 1780, touches on her life at the Trianon: "Madame, my very dear mother.... I have settled in Trianon for eight or ten days so I can take walks in the morning; this is essential for my health and was not possible at Versailles. Trianon is only ten minutes away in a carriage, and one can easily walk there. The King seems to like it a great deal; he comes here for supper every day and visits me in the morning just like in my Versailles apartment. I chose this moment for my stay here because it is the month when the King hunts almost every day and needs me the least. My health and that of my daughter are very good. As for a pregnancy, I dare not talk about it, although the way we live gives me every hope...." I know it's partly the language of the time, but I feel a twinge of pity every time I read her closing words to her imposing mother, always something along the lines of "May I kiss my mother very lovingly?" or "I kiss you with all my heart." or "I am always all yours." Sweet girl.
Tuesday, November 6, 2012
Monday, November 5, 2012
The words of the Baron de Oberkirch say it well: "Early in the morning I visited the Petit Trianon of the Queen. My goodness, such a charming walk! Those beautiful groves scented with lilac, inhabited by nightingales! The weather was lovely, the air was balmy, the butterflies were stretching their golden wings in the rays of the spring sunshine. Never in my life have I spent a more enchanting time than those three hours visiting this retreat. The Queen passes the greater part of the summer there, and I consider it a marvel."
"In the midst of this little Hamlet, a high tower, known as the Marlborough Tower, dominated its surroundings. Its exterior staircases, covered in wallflowers and geraniums, had an elevated parterre. One of the cottages contained the dairy, and the cream, stored in superposed porcelain vases on white marble tables, was chilled by a stream running through the room. Close by was the real farm where the Queen kept a magnificent herd of cows that grazed on the surrounding meadows." Félix, Comte de France d'Hézecques, memoirs of a page at the court of Louis XVI.
Sunday, November 4, 2012
In case you'd like to read the the Ms. Moberly and Jourdain's little book, An Adventure: ...http://archive.org/details/adventurewithapp00mobe