LA SALLE DES GARDES DE LA REINE
The Queen's Guards Room
This room was the last of the Queen’s Grands Appartements whose paintings and architectural features had not yet been fully restored. It is on the principal tour where over 3.5 million people view it annually. Marie-Antoinette pictured here.
In 1680, it became the new Queen’s Guards Room, in which the officers in charge of the protection of the Queen stationed day and night. The Queen’s Grands Appartements were her living quarters (or the Dauphine’s) until the departure of the royal family in 1789. The American Friends of Versailles was honored and humbled to help restore the exquisite ceiling frescoes and its other architectural details to their original beauty.
Ceiling history: In 1672 Noël Coypel was commissioned to decorate the cabinet of the King’s Council (Jupiter Salon) in the Palace of Versailles. In 1674, renowned architect Jules Hardouin Mansart reorganized the rooms in the Palace and the paintings by Coypel were moved to a new location for the ceiling and walls of the Guards Room in the Queen’s Apartments.
Post Revolution, the Palace fell into disrepair. Some restorations of this ceiling took place in 1814 and 1867, but were not fully completed. This ceiling collapsed during WWII (1942) after the bombings of Boulogne-Billancourt (6 miles away).
Following the war, the structure of the ceiling was repaired, but the fragile frescoes continued to deteriorate when in 2010 it suffered even further by water damage. The American Friends of Versailles humbly took on the funding of this international restoration project in 2012 with the actual scientific restoration commencing in 2015. First, expert art restorers needed to carefully flatten the swelling of the frescoes after close to 350 years of life. It was truly in poor condition due to water damage, moldy varnish and multiple re-paints.
The central painting on the ceiling shows Jupiter accompanied by Justice, Piety and Spirits symbolizing the planet and its four satellites
The completed recreation and restoration of the ceiling of the Queen’s Guards Room, Salle des Gardes de la Reine, an extraordinary treasure, is now a lasting symbol of American-French history and tradition, much like that of the Statue of Liberty.
AFV's sister organization, the Société des Amis de Versailles (French Friends of Versailles - over 100 years old philanthropy) committed in 2017 to join efforts alongside the American Friends to complete the financing of restoration of the room’s marbles, wood panels, two wall paintings by COYPEL, and the bronze, gold leafed architectural wall carvings.
The American Friends of Versailles extends a heartfelt toast to all the donors, volunteers, the committee, and artisans for making this important restoration a dream come true!