The King's Animals
** Paintings, sculptures, stuffed animals, tapestries, sleighs, animal skins, porcelain decorations, goldsmith works**… the 300 works collected for the exhibition entitled The King's Animals from approximately fifty French and international collections (Louvre Museum, Natural History Museum, Musée de la chasse et de la Nature (Museum of Hunting and Nature), The Uffizi Gallery, Musée national de la Céramique (National Ceramics Museum), University of Pavia Museum of Natural History, provide precious testimony to the place of animals in the court of Versailles.
Bestiary at the court of Versailles
You have to imagine a Palace of Versailles filled with all kinds of animals, monkeys, cats, birds… living in apartments and anterooms. The Ménagerie, now extinct, housed the rarest animals, from the coati to the quagga, from the cassowary to the black crowned crane. In the park, game was plentiful, 2,000 horses lived in the royal stables and 300 hunting dogs were housed in the large kennel. Animals also appear everywhere in the decorations of the palace and the gardens, where they are represented for their mythological or political symbolism.
This fauna was widely represented by the king’s best painters, from Bernaerts, Boel, to Le Brun, Desportes or even Oudry The favourite dogs and cats of the sovereigns were portrayed with their names inscribed in gold letters highlighting their importance within the court. Get to know Misse, Turlu, Tane, Blonde, Diane… and even Général, Louis XV's cat, painted by Oudry.
The animals were also woven at the Manufacture des Gobelins, but also dissected, engraved and then stuffed at the Academy of Sciences and the King's Garden. You will be able to discover the stuffed elephant of Louis XV, but also the skeleton of the first elephant of Versailles, an elephant gifted to Louis XIV by the King of Portugal.
The exhibition also evokes the Labyrinth hedge maze, populated by a fantastic bestiary, illustrating Aesop's Fables. Since the destruction of this mythical place in the garden of Versailles, in 1775, never have so many sculptures that originate from it been presented to the public.