The opulence and grandeur of the Palace of Versailles will welcome visitors to the National Gallery of Australia (NGA) from Saturday.
More than 130 treasures showcasing the tumultuous period of French history have gone on display in Canberra, giving the public a glimpse into the facets of court life.
The palace was the centre of French power during the reigns of King Louis XIV, XV and XVI.
The exhibition marks the first time the treasures, that reflect the changing tastes of the monarchs, have left France.
It includes a marble bust of Louis XIV, a formal portrait of Marie-Antoinette and the entire 1.5-tonne marble Latona Fountain sculpture.
Intricate sculptures, tapestries, woodworks and furniture from the palace have also made the long journey from Europe, including objects from the famous Hall of Mirrors.
“Every object tells a story evoking the lives, loves, taste and ideas of the kings, queens, mistresses and courtiers who lived at Versailles through so many great moments in French history,” NGA director Gerard Vaughan said.
Sensory first for gallery exhibition
Curators have also included a sensory aspect, with a Louis XIV-inspired perfume incorporated into the display.
In a first for the gallery, a master perfumer created an orange blossom scent based off the King’s favourite flower to perfume the exhibition’s entrance.
The opulent palace is a major tourist attraction 20 kilometres west of Paris, and was the seat of political power in the country before the French Revolution.
President of the Palace of Versailles Catherine Pegard said the treasures were able to leave the palace due to a major restoration program.
“Versailles is at the heart of French cultural expression as much as the NGA is the heart of Australian visual expression, and we are very excited to bring this historic exhibition to Australia,” she said.
The NGA has previously partnered with French institutions to deliver exhibitions in Canberra.
Over 2009 and 2010 it presented the Masterpieces from Paris exhibition, which showcased impressionist works from the famous Musee d’Orsay.
The public will have a chance to experience Versailles: Treasure from the Palace until April next year.