Over the last 8 years, artists have been transforming the 17th century Palace of Versailles through various exhibitions and installations. This year, Danish-Icelandic Olafur Eliasson has, in the words of Catherine Pegrad, President of the Chateau des Versailles, ‘[made] the contours of the Sun-King’s palace dance’ through works that include a Hall of Mirrors, a veil of fog over the gardens, and 40 foot artificial waterfall behind the Fountain of Apollo.
Louis XIV was famous for his desire to create the impression that France was at the cutting edge of technology, and enforce the country’s political might through the lavishness of his palace. The engineers who built the original fountains also made France’s canons, creating a link between the palace and military power and prowess. Louis wrote a manual for the gardens, including instructions for the groundskeepers to turn particular fountains on at certain moments, to ensure that visitors were tricked into believing the waterworks were continuous. He used water particularly to give the appearance of lushness, alongside reminding ambassadors of the political power of France, which is why the waterfall is such a prominent feature in this latest exhibition.
Eliasson’s aim in building the waterfall is to ‘reinvigorate the engineering ingenuity of the past’; a grand water feature had been planned by Louis XIV’s architect, but never came to fruition. Similarly, with the other elements of the exhibition, the artist claims that he wanted his installations ‘to empower everyone…asks them to exercise their senses, to embrace the unexpected, to drift through the gardens and to feel the landscape take shape through their movement’.
Architecture and History of Art students should look further into the design of Versailles, both in the 17th century and through this exhibition. Engineering applicants should consider the changes in engineering technology that have allowed the artificial waterfall to be finally created, and investigate the engineering methods that would have been used during Louis XIV’s reign. History students should consider how art can allow us to reflect on historical periods and mind sets and in particular, how the staging of an exhibition in such a prominent and iconic building can change our perceptions of certain moments of history.
- Science Puzzle: experimenting with mice… We asked our Medicine graduate Jennifer to tell us a... Read more >
- Maths Puzzle: The Age of Census A census-taker knocks on a door, and asks the woman... Read more >
- COPA & International Deadlines Most deadlines are the same for all those applying to... Read more >
- Access and Financial Support at Oxbridge As two of the world’s top universities, both Oxford and... Read more >
- Download a Philosophy Personal Statement “Philosophy of the mind is my particular interest, especially the... Read more >
- The Great Collection of Past Oxbridge Interview Questions The great thing about an Oxbridge interview is that it... Read more >
- Choosing a course From Arch and Anth to Veterinary Medicine, the range of... Read more >
- How is the BMAT marked? The BioMedical Admissions Test (BMAT) is marked significantly differently from... Read more >
- Human Social and Political Science (HSPS) Reading List If you are applying for HSPS at Cambridge, it is... Read more >
- Download a History & English Personal Statement “Evidently reading is a major passion and Graham Greene has... Read more >
- MLAT mini mock paper & answers The MLAT or Modern Languages Test is required by Oxford... Read more >
- PAT overview If you’re applying for Physics, Materials or a relevant joint... Read more >
- Choosing The Right A-Levels Picking subjects at A level can be a difficult decision... Read more >
- Cambridge Law Test mini mock paper & answers If you are applying to do Law at Cambridge, chances... Read more >
- Your Open Day Guide Open Days can be an extremely useful way of finding... Read more >
- Pooling: Fast Facts You may have heard people talk about “pooling”, or maybe... Read more >
- Funding Your Oxbridge Degree Many people are under the impression that it is more... Read more >
- TSA Oxford mini mock & answers Thinking is very important to Oxford, so they’ve devised an... Read more >
- Bursaries Both Oxford and Cambridge are committed to the principle that... Read more >
- Maths Puzzle: a game of chess We asked one of our top Maths Oxbridge tutors for... Read more >
- Medical & Biological Sciences Reading Lists Medicine and the whole range of Biological Sciences are highly... Read more >
- March’s Top News Stories Read more about some of the biggest news stories to... Read more >
- Admissions Tests: our tips as featured in the Independent Last year, the Independent asked us to provide some simple... Read more >
- HAT mini mock paper The History Aptitude Test or ‘HAT’ must be sat by... Read more >