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THE BELVEDERE PAVILION AT VERSAILLES
The Belvedere Pavilion is a notable feature in the landscape of the Petit Trianon of Versailles. Built between 1778 and 1781 under the supervision of Richard Mique for Marie-Antoinette, it is the crowning element of the English Garden on the grounds. Early plans called for the Belvedere to resemble a pagoda, reflecting the fascination at the time with Asian art and architecture. The interior decoration was undertaken by Le Riche, and Joseph Deschamps completed the exterior decorative campaign. Over the centuries, the Belvedere suffered from aging of materials and lack of maintenance. In recent decades, the exterior was particularly threatened by impaired drainage systems that allowed rain to stream along the façades and reach the lower parts of the building. Moss and lichen grew on the surfaces and some elements of the decorative balustrades were lost. The interior also showed cracks along the walls and on the floor.
HOW WE HELPED
In 2009, WMF provided support to conserve the Belvedere and its garden through the Robert W. Wilson Challenge to Conserve Our Heritage and Vinci. The project was completed in spring 2012 and resulted in improved structural stability, conserved interiors, and improved landscaping immediately around the building. The work encompassed the cleaning of the façade and the conservation of the stone balustrade, sculpture, and entrance stairs. The interior has been fully restored and particular attention was given to the cleaning of paintings, the marble floor, and repairing bronze decorative features.
WHY IT MATTERS
Under Marie-Antoinette’s reign, the Belvedere was constructed in the newly popular neoclassical style surrounded by a landscaped garden reflecting the passion for English gardens at the time. The adjacent lake and rocky hill are reminiscent of the famous gardens at Tivoli. Returning the Belvedere and its landscape features to their original state provide the visitor with a greater understanding of the taste of the era and of Marie-Antoinette’s life at the Petit Trianon.