VERSAILLES: The King’s Golden Gate

VIEW OF VERSAILLES, C. 1722 BY DENIS MARTIN

VIEW OF VERSAILLES, C. 1722 BY PIERRE DENIS MARTIN. PHOTO: COURTESY OF WIKIPEDIA. US-PD.

Approach Versailles, the palace of the Sun King, Louis XIV, and prepare to be in the presence of magnificence. The entire ensemble of the vast building, its entrance, state rooms and gardens were carefully planned to reinforce the grandeur of the monarch. Built from the 1660s to the 1680s, this great enterprise in monumental construction involved thousands of craftsmen under the direction of the King’s artistic team: the architect, Louis Le Vau, the painter, Charles Le Brun and the landscape designer, Andre Le Notre. ┬áThe first view for a visitor to Versailles was the entrance to the palace by three radiating avenues terminating at the main gate, which opened on to the Place d’Armes. Beyond this forecourt lay the Golden Gate of the King and the Court of Honor. This sequence of gilded gates prepared all guests, whether high and mighty ambassadors or those of less exalted status, to enter the presence of a king who ruled, he truly believed, by divine right. All of the arts of architecture, sculpture and ironwork were dedicated to creating an entrance of unparalleled beauty, craftsmanship and splendor. The Golden Gate became such a powerful symbol of the king that it was torn down during the French Revolution and only restored in 2008/2009. These images of gilded wrought iron have inspired my historical fiction novel, set in 17th century France, which will be published in the Fall of 2016.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

THE GOLDEN GATE SUPPORTING A ROUND CREST BEARING THE FLEUR DE LIS OF THE ROYAL FAMILY TOPPED BY THE CROWN OF FRANCE. PHOTO: JOHN TSCHIRCH

DETAIL. GOLDEN MASK OF THE SUN GOD, APOLLO, USED BY LOUIS XIV FOR HIS PERSONAL SYMBOL AS THE SUN KING.

DETAIL. GOLDEN MASK OF THE SUN GOD, APOLLO, USED BY LOUIS XIV FOR HIS PERSONAL SYMBOL AS THE SUN KING. PHOTO: JOHN TSCHIRCH

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

DETAIL OF THE LETTER “L” FOR LOUIS XIV. THE LETTERS ARE INTERLACED TOGETHER. PHOTO: JOHN TSCHIRCH

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

DETAIL. THE ELEGANT RHYTHM OF REPETITIVE DESIGN. THESE CURVING FORMS ARE AT THE BASE OF THE GOLDEN GATE EXECUTED IN WROUGHT IRON COVERED IN GOLD LEAF. PHOTO: JOHN TSCHIRCH

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

THE CROWN OF FRANCE BEARING THE FLEUR DE LIS. EVERY VISITOR PASSED UNDER THIS SYMBOL OF THE FRENCH MONARCHY ABLAZE IN GOLD AS THEY ENTERED THE COURT OF HONOR. PHOTO: JOHN TSCHIRCH

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

THE GOLDEN GATE IS COMPOSED OF WROUGHT IRON GRILLWORK TOPPED BY FLEUR DE LIS, THE SYMBOLIC FLOWER OF THE FRENCH MONARCHY. AT INTERVALS, THE CROWN OF FRANCE APPEARS WITH PALM FRONDS AT EITHER SIDE. IN THE BACKGROUND IS THE ROYAL CHAPEL. PHOTO: JOHN TSCHIRCH

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

THE AFTERNOON SUN BEAMS THROUGH THE GOLDEN GATE. RESTORED IN 2008, THE GATE VISUALLY PREPARED VISITORS TO THE PALACE TO ENTER THE PRESENCE OF THE KING. PHOTO: JOHN TSCHIRCH

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

THE GOLDEN GATE AT TWILIGHT. CAPTURED AT THE VERY END OF THE DAY, A SOFT LIGHT ACCENTUATES THE FINE CRAFTSMANSHIP OF THE IRONWORK AND HIGH QUALITY OF GILDING. PHOTO: JOHN TSCHIRCH

DETAIL. THE MASK OF THE SUN GOD APOLLO, USED BY LOUIS XIV FOR HIS PERSONAL SYMBOL AS THE SUN KING. PHOTO: JOHN TSCHIRCH