• Simon Elliott, Lucina Ward and Adam Worrall

    Simon Elliott, Lucina Ward and Adam Worrall

  • NGA Director Gerard Vaughan, Catherine Pegard from the Palace of Versailles and Ambassador of France Christophe Lecoutier

    NGA Director Gerard Vaughan, Catherine Pegard from the Palace of Versailles and Ambassador of France Christophe Lecoutier

  • Eric Soulier with Silvie Rothen , Head of Exhibitions at Versailles.

    Eric Soulier with Silvie Rothen , Head of Exhibitions at Versailles.

  • Ambassador of France Christophe Lecourtier with ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr

    Ambassador of France Christophe Lecourtier with ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr

  • Sharon Verghis from the Weekend Australian with Gina Fairley from ArtsHub

    Sharon Verghis from the Weekend Australian with Gina Fairley from ArtsHub

  • WIN Station Manager Leon Buchanan and Craig Beattie with a Photo Bomber from Versailles

    WIN Station Manager Leon Buchanan and Craig Beattie with a Photo Bomber from Versailles

  • The Versailles Troupe with Charlottte Harper.

    The Versailles Troupe with Charlottte Harper.

Versailles: Treasures from the Palace Exhibition Launch

18 July 2016

It was hard to find something beautiful in the world to ameliorate the horror of Nice on Bastille Day but a little French surprise was waiting to be launched at the National Gallery of Australia delayed for a few hours as the Embassy of France held a minutes silence to join with their countrymen to remember the overwhelming enormity of what had happened before attending Versailles: Treasures from the Palace coming to the NGA from Friday 9 December.

And with just the right amount of voluptuousness for the femme fatales in their finery, soft harp music and titteringly flirtatious chaps wearing more make-up than was good for them circulating the room that seemed to spread endlessly into the large photograph of the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles,  we were transported. Media and sponsors feasted on dainty delicacies and sniffed the voluminous vases of flowers while waiting for the launch of this extravaganza that will transform the NGA into an antipodean version of the Palace of Versailles.

Of course it’s timed for the bumper summer season bringing tourists and locals to the NGA, with undoubtedly plenty of interstate visitors because this is a one off lending of the treasures and only coming to Canberra.

Among those treasures: is the entire 1.5 tonne statue of Latona and her children from one of the main fountains at the Palace of Versailles and it’s not the kind of statue you pick up and carry as hand luggage on Qantas. No this will take a mighty effort to pick up and pack up as its a big hunk of marble and you have to wonder if maybe the fountain needs a bit of refurbishment so the Lantana Fountain can have an Aussie holiday in the meantime. Where will they put it in the NGA?

The marble bust of Louis XIV with his cascading curls is coming too with the exquisite portrait of Queen Marie-Antoinette ( 1783) in a mammoth chiffon skirt with festooning and a very hippy bustle as well.  Her harp and chair from 1775 will grace a space, unlikely to be plucked by anyone we know and the golden reliquary (container for holy relics) that belonged to Louis XIV mother will be worth a peek. There will be tapestries, paintings, personal items and grandeur and opulence everywhere. It will be extraordinary and exciting. And for the official opening its probably about now to start thinking of a glam outfit to wear and an appropriate but ridiculous wig with accompanying stick for scratching. The ghostly white make-up and pursed red lips optional.