From 27 October 2015 to 21 February 2016.
The exhibition is open every day except Monday (and on Thursday 25 December 2015 and 1 January 2016) from 9:00am to 5:30pm (last entry at 4:45pm).
The King is dead, from 27 October 2015 to 21 February 2016, at the Palace of Versailles
The death of the king, both as a man and an institution, was a key moment in the construction of the public perception of the monarchy, combining religion (the death of a Christian) and politics (the death and resurrection of the king, who never dies). From his final death throes to the burial it resembled a performance, a great Baroque show of huge significance to courtly society, which was affected more than ever by it.
The exhibition – the first on the subject – will look back on the details of the death, autopsy and funeral of Louis XIV, which strangely are little known, and to situate them in the funeral context of European sovereigns from the Renaissance period to the Enlightenment. It also discusses the survival – often paradoxical – of this ritual from the French Revolution to the contemporary era.
The exhibition will bring together works of art and historical documents of major importance from the largest French and foreign collections, including ceremonial portraits, funeral statues and effigies, gravestones, the manuscript for the account of the autopsy of the king, coins from the Saint-Denis Treasury, gold medals, emblems and ornaments, and furniture of funeral liturgy. Some of the pieces on display have never been exhibited in public.
Exhibiting these masterpieces has required grand scenography effects. Scenographer Pier Luigi Pizzi was asked by Béatrix Saule, the exhibition’s Head Curator, to design the layout for this great Baroque show. Across the nine sections, visitors will discover a veritable funeral opera conducted by the artist.
The subject of the exhibition will not fail to surprise, and is scientifically rigorous. It is based on an international research program on royal ceremonies in European Courts, undertaken over the course of three years at the Palace of Versailles Research Centre under the leadership of Professors Gérard Sabatier and Mark Hengerer and with the participation of a team representing a range of disciplines, from coroners to liturgists, from medieval to contemporary historians.
Béatrix Saule, Director and Head Curator of the Musée National des Châteaux de Versailles et de Trianon, assisted by Hélène Delalex Conservation Officer at the Musée National des Châteaux de Versailles et de Trianon
and Gérard Sabatier, Emeritus Professor
Scenography : Pier Luigi Pizzi