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Having enjoyed the fictional TV series set during the construction of the Palace of Versailles it was great to finally visit the famous Hall of Mirrors.

Designed by Jules Hardouin-Mansart and built between 1678-1684 the mirrors celebrate the political, economic and artistic successes of France during the 18 years reign of Louis XIV or “Sun King” as he is known.

357 mirrors make up the 73mts of the hall and show the prosperity of France at this time as they were considered the height of luxury. In the 17th century, Venetian glassworkers had the monopoly on glassmaking techniques and the Venetian government ordered the assassination of artisans defecting to France. This is why sometimes the Hall of Mirrors is also referred to as “The Bloody Mirrors”.

A number of important treaties have been signed in the Hall including The Treaty of Paris which ended the Revolutionary War between Britain and the United States. In 1871 Kaiser Wilhelm I was hailed as the Emperor of Germany following Frances defeat in the Franco-Prussian War. Almost 50 years later The Treaty of Versailles was signed on 28 June 1919 which ended the First World War.

The Palace of Versailles, one of the most magnificent achievements of 18th-century French art and architecture, is renowned for its opulent design and the strategic use of mirrors, most famously exemplified by the Hall of Mirrors. The importance of mirrors in Versailles is profound, reflecting not only the literal grandeur of the palace but also the symbolic power, wealth, and sophistication of the reign of Louis XIV, known as the Sun King.

Mirrors : Symbolic Representation of Power and Wealth

Mirrors in the 17th century were extraordinarily expensive and considered luxurious objects, largely because the technology of producing high-quality glass mirrors was a closely guarded secret by the Venetians, the leaders in mirror manufacturing. By adorning the Hall of Mirrors with 357 mirrors opposite the windows, Louis XIV showcased the wealth and technological prowess of France, rivalling Venice’s monopoly. The mirrors symbolized the king’s ability to harness and reflect his power throughout France and across Europe.

Architectural and Aesthetic Marvel

The Hall of Mirrors, the central gallery of the Palace of Versailles, is an architectural masterpiece designed by Jules Hardouin-Mansart. The use of mirrors was revolutionary at the time; it created an illusion of space, making the hall appear more extensive and grander than it actually was. The reflective surfaces captured and magnified the light from the windows and the numerous crystal chandeliers, creating a dazzling effect that emphasized the king’s control over light and space, much like the sun dominates the sky.

Political and Diplomatic Significance

The Hall of Mirrors was not just a space of opulent decoration but also a venue for important state functions, including receptions for foreign dignitaries, royal weddings, and the signing of treaties, such as the Treaty of Versailles in 1919, which ended World War I. The magnificence of the hall was intended to impress and intimidate visitors, reinforcing the monarch’s absolute power and the central role of France in European politics.

Cultural and Historical Impact

The mirrors at Versailles have had a lasting impact on the development of Western art and architecture, influencing the design of palaces and stately homes across Europe. They epitomize the Baroque style’s emphasis on grandeur, movement, and sensory overload. Furthermore, the mirrors have become a symbol of the cultural and historical significance of the Palace of Versailles, attracting millions of visitors annually who marvel at the craftsmanship and beauty of these reflective surfaces.

The importance of mirrors

The importance of mirrors at the Palace of Versailles extends beyond their sheer beauty and opulence. They represent a pivotal moment in art and architectural history, symbolizing the power, wealth, and sophistication of Louis XIV’s France. The mirrors reflect not only the literal light but also the metaphorical enlightenment of the era, showcasing the palace as a beacon of French cultural supremacy and a timeless monument to royal absolutism.

How much use do you make of mirrors? Go Glass would be pleased to supply you with made to measure glass mirrors to brighten your home.

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