Make sure you find your way onto the second level to get ‘the royal view’ down into the nave.
In the traditions of the French monarchy, the king was chosen by God and through coronation became his ‘lieutenant’ on earth. All the paintings and sculptures in the Royal Chapel at Versailles evoke this idea - a series documents the process of coronation, starting at the nave and ending at the gallery where the king sat.
The Court would attend the king’s mass at around 10 AM on this day. He would sit in the royal gallery, surrounded by his family. In French hierarchical tradition, the ladies of the Court occupied the side galleries and the ‘officers’ and the public sat below.
Unfortunately for Louis XIV, his favourite chapel, built in 1682 on the site of the Hercules salon, had quickly proved to be too cramped. The Royal Chapel was built by Jules Hardouin Mansart between 1699 and 1708 and completed by Robert de Cotte in 1710; Louis XIV only used this chapel for five years before his death in 1715.
Jules Mansart did not see the end of its construction as he died in 1708, the chapel’s construction having been delayed by war. His brother-in-law Robert de Cotte replaced him, but the general lines of the architecture and decoration had been decided since 1699. The nave, side aisles, ambulatory and an elevation with galleries were all included in the floor plan.
Look up to see how the white and gold decoration contrasts with bare marble tiling and the fantastically detailed painted roof. The chapel is a special example of Gothic and Baroque styles on show, interwoven but still possible to tell apart.
In its day, the greatest organists from Europe would play the mighty Clicquot organ which sits above the altar. Equally renowned singers would sing motets each day throughout the entire church service.
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