Exhibits on Gardens and Versailles at The Met Museum - Paris with Scott

Are you thinking Paris is too far away for the weekend?  Then head to New York City to explore exhibits on French gardens and Versailles.  That’s right, through the end of July, go see Paris in New York City!  Public Parks, Private Gardens: Paris to Provence and Visitors to Versailles 1682 – 1789.  Both mounted in the halls of The Metropolitan Museum of Art and full of treasures from France.

Exhibition #1 – Public Parks, Private Gardens: Paris to Provence

In Public Parks, Private Gardens: Paris to Provence, The Met, “explores horticultural developments that reshaped the landscape of France and grounded innovative movements—artistic and green—in an era that gave rise to Naturalism, Impressionism, and Art Nouveau.”  All of these artistic movements are well-represented through works presented in this exhibition.

Past urbanites are no different from today’s.  People living in developed cities flock to gardens and parks to be outdoors, enjoy the air, stretch out in the wide open space and delight in the beauty of nature.  To illustrate this love of gardens, the exhibition features a wide range.  Sections include Parks for the Public, Revival of Floral Still Life, Portrait in the Garden and Private Gardens.

Exhibits of Ceramics, Drawings and Paintings to Photography

Choosing works from its extensive holdings, The Met displays drawings, etchings, paintings, glassware, ceramics and even early photographs.  Although the objects show gardens and parks in other parts of France, the majority is focused on Paris and surrounding areas.  Garden lovers will delight in seeing works depicting Fontainebleau, Parc Monceau, Bagatelle, Jardin du Luxembourg, Tuileries, Versailles, along with many other well-known and even less well-known gardens.

Love still life paintings of flowers and garden scenes?  Then this exhibition is for you.  Works by heavy hitters like, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Paul Cézanne, Berthe Morisot, Claude Monet, Édouard Manet, August Renoir, Eugène Atget, Edgar Degas, Vincent van Gogh, Mary Cassatt and many more hang from the walls.

Do 18th century Sèvres porcelain vases with garden scenes painted on them get you going?  What about Art Nouveau glass with elegant flower designs in the glass?  Do you enjoy the details of garden plans and garden furnishings?  Then this is exhibit is also for you!  They are all there in cases and on the walls.  Really, anyone who is at all interested in gardens in Paris and in France would enjoy this exhibition.

Even if you cannot make it to New York to enjoy the show in person, the exhibition features an accompanying catalogue.

Exhibition #2 – Visitors to Versailles

In Visitors to Versailles 1682 – 1789, The Met, “highlights the experiences of travelers from 1682, when Louis XIV moved his court to Versailles, to 1789, when the royal family was forced to leave the palace and return to Paris.”  The objects demonstrating this experience range from souvenirs for the visitors to gifts to the royalty and what the visitors wore and saw.

Sections of the exhibit include, Incognito and Private Visitors, To See the King, Getting Dressed for Court, the Gardens and Going to Versailles.  The dedicated rooms in the museum present men’s suits and hunting clothes, women’s court dresses, riding habits, shoes, ball gowns and fans, sculpture, tapestries, rugs, miniature portraits in diamond surrounds, hats, swords, military outfits, furniture, porcelain and objects of art.  Also, very interestingly, paintings of visitors.

And, it is convenient that the garden exhibit in another section of the museum is on at a similar time.  Gardens at the palace were a major part of court life.  You will see multiple illustrations of gardens.  Royalty wanted to be outside too.  Versailles had unending garden delights for royalty and visitors.

Everything is Over the Top, In a Good Way

Like Versailles itself, nearly everything on display is over the top.  Many things are gilded, handmade items have the most intricate detailing, master craftsmen used precious stones and rare and exotic materials – it is all here.  Just take a look at a set of ivory buttons decorated with scenes of Versailles and the gardens – talk about limited edition.  The description explains that the buttons, “intended for a man’s coat may have appealed to tourists.”  Of course, they would!  Fascinating.  And, beautiful.

Along with many items focused on the multiple kings called by the name, “Louis,” Marie Antoinette figures in the exhibition.  Likewise, multiple objects depict the visitors to Versailles.  For example, a Tunisian ambassador, several Asian dignitaries, and would be Americans, like, Benjamin Franklin!  Paintings of Ben and even some of his clothes are on display.  From 1776 until 1785, Benjamin Franklin was the representative to France of the American colonies that revolted against England.  He was at the French court all the time.

Adding to master works from The Met’s holdings, more than 50 lenders, including the Château de Versailles, offered works to the show.

Don’t miss the statue of a monkey riding a goat!

Like Exhibition #1, even if you cannot make it to New York to enjoy the show in person, the exhibition features an accompanying catalogue.  On the cover is an illustration of the gardens of Versailles and visitors enjoying their time in the landscape.

Praise for the exhibition:  ” A fascinating window into how the court would have appeared to foreigners and day trippers alike…. ” -Artnet

Public Parks, Private Gardens: Paris to Provence

Where:  The Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met Fifth Avenue)
Address:  1000 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10028
When:  March 12 – July 29, 2018
Admission:  Entrance fee for museum which includes exhibit
Official websitehttps://metmuseum.org/exhibitions/listings/2018/public-parks-private-gardens

Visitors to Versailles 1682 – 1789

Where:  The Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met Fifth Avenue)
Address:  1000 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10028
When:  April 16 – July 29, 2018
Admission:  Entrance fee for museum which includes exhibit
Official websitehttps://www.metmuseum.org/exhibitions/listings/2018/visitors-to-versailles

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