A look at the Louis XIV exhibit in Versailles. Something not to be missed if you can make the trip to France by February 2010.
During his funeral, the crowd booed at the procession to the royal burial place in Saint-Denis and threw stones at the coffin. It was a foretaste of what was to come 74 years later: With his extravagant lifestyle and almost constant battling, the Sun King ruined France’s finances and paved the way for the Revolution. That’s not, however, what “Louis XIV — L’Homme et le Roi,” an opulent exhibition at the Chateau de Versailles, tells us. It celebrates France’s longest-reigning (1643-1715) monarch as patron of the arts, collector and object of artistic glorification. “There was nothing he liked so much as flattery,” the Duc de Saint-Simon remarked in his “Memoires,” “the coarser and clumsier it was, the more he relished it.” The numerous portraits of the king in the show bear this out: Hyacinthe Rigaud’s 1701 canvas created a new genre, the quintessential image of royal majesty with all its attributes. Equestrian statues likened him to Roman emperors. On tapestries, he appeared as Apollo or Alexander the Great. – From Bloomberg