Petit Trianon

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Coordinates: 48°48′56″N2°06′35″E / 48.815639°N 2.109675°E / 48.815639; 2.109675


Petit Trianon
West facade of Petit Trianon 002.JPG
West facade of the Petit Trianon
Petit Trianon
General information
Type Château
Architectural style French Neoclassical (more precisely Louis XV and Louis XVI)
Location Versailles, France
Construction started1762
Client Louis XV of France
Design and construction
Architect(s) Ange-Jacques Gabriel
Aerial view of the gardens of the Petit Trianon. The Petit Trianon is in the center, the Temple de l'Amour is behind, the Pavillon francais is in front in the same perspective. Vue aerienne du domaine de Versailles par ToucanWings - Creative Commons By Sa 3.0 - 124.jpg
Aerial view of the gardens of the Petit Trianon. The Petit Trianon is in the center, the Temple de l'Amour is behind, the Pavillon français is in front in the same perspective.
The salle a manger (dining room): finely carved boiseries are without gilding, simply painted to complement the bleu Turquin chimneypiece PetitTrianon.jpg
The salle à manger (dining room): finely carved boiseries are without gilding, simply painted to complement the bleu Turquin chimneypiece
The Salon UnesalledelareinedeFrance.jpg
The Salon
The French Pavilion Parc du Chateau de Versailles - Le Pavillon Francais.jpg
The French Pavilion
The Belvedere in the park Chateau de Versailles - Belvedere 22-04-2005.jpg
The Belvedere in the park

The Petit Trianon (French pronunciation:  [pəti tʁijanɔ̃] ; French for "small Trianon") is a Neoclassical style château located on the grounds of the Palace of Versailles in Versailles, France. It was built between 1762 and 1768 during the reign of King Louis XV of France. The Petit Trianon was constructed within the park of a larger royal retreat known as the Grand Trianon.

Design and construction

The Petit Trianon was built on the site of a botanical garden developed about a decade earlier by Louis XV, within the grounds of the Grand Trianon, Louis XIV's retreat from the Palace of Versailles to the southeast. [1] It was designed by Ange-Jacques Gabriel by order of Louis XV for his long-term mistress, Madame de Pompadour, and was constructed between 1762 and 1768. [2] Madame de Pompadour died four years before its completion, and the Petit Trianon was subsequently occupied by her successor, Madame du Barry. Upon his accession to the throne in 1774, the 20-year-old Louis XVI gave the château and its surrounding park to his 19-year-old Queen Marie Antoinette for her exclusive use and enjoyment. [2] [3] [4]

The Petit Trianon is an example of the transition from the Rococo style of the earlier part of the 18th century to the Neoclassical style of the 1760s and onward. It attracts interest in its four facades, each designed according to that part of the estate it would face. The Corinthian order predominates, with two freestanding and two engaged columns on the side of the formal French garden, and pilasters facing both the courtyard and the area once occupied by Louis XV's greenhouses. Overlooking the former botanical garden of the king, the remaining façade was left bare.

Marie Antoinette would visit the Petit Trianon to escape the formality of court life and to rest from her royal responsibilities. Since all were de par la Reine (by order of the Queen), none were permitted to enter the property without the Queen's permission. Only the Queen's "inner circle" (including the princesse de Lamballe and Gabrielle de Polastron, duchesse de Polignac) were invited, which alienated the court nobility. In the spring of 1779, Marie Antoinette retired to the Petit Trianon to recover from illness after the birth of her daughter Marie-Thérèse. Her entire household came with her, as well as four male friends to attend to her: the Duke of Coigny, the Duke of Guines, Count Valentin Esterhazy, and the Baron of Besenval. This was in violation of court etiquette, causing gossip to circulate at Versailles and "the malicious insinuations against her which became so common later on." [5]

The building was designed to require as little interaction between guests and servants as possible. To that end, the table in the salles à manger was conceived to be mobile, mechanically lowered and raised through the floorboards so that the servants below could set places while remaining unseen. The tables were never built, but the delineation for the mechanical apparatus can still be seen from the foundation.

In the attic, a suite was constructed for Louis XV by Ange-Jacques Gabriel, consisting of antechamber, bedroom, and a private chamber. A staircase led from his private chamber down to the mezzanine where Mme Du Barry resided. In Marie Antoinette's time, the attic apartment remained reserved for Louis XVI, though he never slept at the Petit Trianon. The private staircase of Louis XV was removed, allowing a library to be constructed by Richard Mique. The mezzanine, which is above the Queen's apartment, was reserved for Marie Antoinette's lady-in-waiting and first lady-in-waiting. [6]

Within the Queen's apartment, the décor of her boudoir features mirrored panels that, by the turning of a crank, can be raised or lowered to obscure the windows and reflect the candlelight. Her bedroom was provided with furniture from Georges Jacob and Jean Henri Riesener. Jacob designed a set of furniture for the room known as the Mobilier aux épis, elaborately carved with flowers and garlands and upholstered in embroidered Lyon silk. [7] The wallpaper was painted by Jean-Baptiste Pillement.

French Revolution and Republic

On 5 October 1789, Marie Antoinette was in the gardens of the Petit Trianon when a page brought news of the imminent arrival of an armed crowd from Paris. With the enforced departure of the royal family the next day, the Petit Trianon was almost abandoned, except for the gardeners and other staff who continued to live there. Renovations that had been underway were interrupted, leaving large sums owed to builders. The former queen's gardener, Antoine Richard, was appointed as curator of the gardens and plant nursery in 1792 by the Minister of the Interior. After the final overthrow of the monarchy in July 1792, all of the furniture, art works, and other valuables of the Petit Trianon were sent to auction, under a decree of the Convention dated 10 June 1793. The auction began on Sunday, 25 August 1793, and continued until 11 August 1794. The properties sold were widely scattered. Silverware, lead and brass fixtures were requisitioned for use in the arsenals. The sculptor Amable Boichard was appointed in April 1794 to remove "emblems of royalty and feudalism" from the property.

Under the new Republic, the Petit Trianon underwent a number of changes. Declared national property, the land was divided into ten lots. The City of Versailles proposed that a botanical garden be established, but this plan was never adopted. In 1796, the land was leased to a tavern. By 1801, the use of the grounds for dances and festivals led to neglect and vandalism. The buildings of the hamlet were reported to be dilapidated. Some improvements in the layout of the gardens were subsequently made, and a school located in part of the complex.

Napoleonic period

After some years of semi-neglect, the Petit Trianon resumed its traditional role when the new emperor, Napoleon, granted the use of the building to his sister Pauline. Extensive refurbishing of roofs, piping, floors, and chimneys was carried out. Main rooms were repainted, and mirrors installed to replace those sold or vandalized. Finally, paintings were hung and a bridge de la Réunion constructed to link open areas across a hollow road.

Derivative buildings

United States

Nemours Estate mansion and gardens, in Wilmington, Delaware, is the largest formal French garden in America. It was built between 1909 and 1935, and was inspired and largely based on the Petit Trianon.


See also

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Further reading