A Fairy-tale Palace : the Trianon de Porcelaine at Versailles
Mary-Claude Canova-Green, « A Fairy-tale Palace : the Trianon de Porcelaine at Versailles », dans S. Dobalová, I. P. Muchka (éd.), Looking for Leisure. Court Residences and their Satellites, 1400–1700, Palatium, vol. 4, Prague, 2017.
‘The Trianon palace was first perceived as an enchantment : for, having been begun only at the end of winter, it was found to be complete in spring, as though it had sprung out of the ground along with the flowers of the gardens that accompany it.
In 1670, within a few months and at great cost, Louis XIV had ‘a small palace of extraordinary architecture’ built at Trianon, on the outer grounds of Versailles, where he could ‘pass some hours of the day during the heat of summer’. The construction of the palace was a feat of engineering that required the transformation of the chosen location and a speeding up of the normal rhythms of construction work. Not only had the existing village, including its church, been demolished and the ground levelled to make way for the palace and its gardens (they were laid out first), the building itself had been constructed very rapidly without consideration for costs. Such was the king’s pleasure.
One can only be surprised by the disproportion between the means, that is the effort, energy and money expended, and the end result, a simple summer pavilion, meant for al fresco relaxation and pleasure. As shown by the absence of fireplaces in any of the rooms, the miniature palace was to be used only in the summer months for exclusive tea or dinner parties. The duc de Saint-Simon dismissed it as a simple ‘house of porcelain for light refreshments’.