Dior to fund Versailles makeover
Fashion house to help restore Marie Antoinette’s rustic hideaway, where the French queen enjoyed the simple things in life
By Claudia Barbieri Childs. Conservation, Issue 251, November 2013
Published online: 14 November 2013
The fashion house Dior is to sponsor the restoration of the Queen’s House in Versailles. The deal was announced last month by Catherine Pégard, the director of the Palace of Versailles.
The house was Marie Antoinette’s rustic hideaway, where Louis XVI’s queen played out a fantasy life as a simple milkmaid until the revolution of 1789 imposed a sterner reality. The house was abandoned after the revolution.
The hamlet, built between 1783 and 1787, was partly inspired by the landscapes of the painter Hubert Robert. It was designed by the architect Richard Mique, who was guillotined for a failed attempt to save the queen’s life.
The mock farming village was constructed without foundations in half-timbered plaster and brick. The buildings’ rustic exteriors stood in stark contrast to the Rococo refinement found inside; the walls of the upstairs rooms were sheathed in painted silk.
“[Our policy] has been to progressively restore and refurnish the chateau and its domain. The Queen’s House is one of the most dilapidated places, and it is my priority to restore it so that it can be visited again,” Pégard says. “It was time to act quickly, as the buildings were deteriorating fast.”
The work will involve lowering the gardens and grounds to prevent rising damp, followed by the restoration and consolidation of stonework, timber and roofs. Interior flooring, panelling and paintwork will be reproduced on the basis of either 18th-century records or an early 19th-century redecoration by the empress Marie-Louise, Napoleon’s second wife. The work is due to be completed in 2015. Neither Pégard nor Dior would give details of the budget.
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