The Wallace Collection

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The Court of Versailles in London: French Eighteenth-Century Decorative Arts in the Wallace Collection

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The Court of Versailles in London: French Eighteenth-Century Decorative Arts in the Wallace Collection

The idea of the Court of Versailles in London is not quite as absurd as it sounds. If Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette had managed to escape into exile at the beginning of the French Revolution, taking with them their family and their possessions, and had arrived safely in England, then you would expect to find the Court transferred to London. But they did not escape, disaster awaited them, both were guillotined and the Bourbons seemed to be at the end of their powers. But, oddly, they lived on in the spirit of theirs, and two royal predecessors, possessions and it was these that arrived in England, on a spectacular scale after the Revolution. The works of art were welcomed particularly by an aristocracy deprived of visiting Paris on the Grand Tour by the Napoleonic Wars, and the Marquesses of Hertford, founders of the Wallace Collection, were keen and extravagant collectors of these French masterpieces. Today the Wallace Collection has one of the most sumptuous holdings of French decorative arts in the world.