Louis-Philippe inaugurates the Gallery of Battles

Louis-Philippe inaugurates the Gallery of Battles

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Louis-Philippe inaugurates the Galerie des Batailles on June 10, 1837.

© Photo RMN-Grand Palais - All rights reserved

Publication date: May 2005

Historical context

After the marriage of the royal prince, the Duke of Orleans, Louis-Philippe solemnly inaugurated the museum of Versailles in 1837. In 1833, influenced by Guizot, he had the idea of ​​restoring the castle and installing a dedicated museum there. to "all the glories of France". The architect Fontaine was the prime contractor for the restoration of the castle, and Horace Vernet the most sought-after painter for the gallery.

Image Analysis

The scene takes place in the Gallery of Battles. The view is taken from the end of the gallery, on the side of the 1830 room. We can recognize the royal couple, surrounded by the courtyard. The most emblematic work of the historic Galleries of Versailles, the Galerie des Batailles, grouping together the most famous battles in the history of France since Tolbiac, leads to the 1830 room, an ensemble erected to the glory of Louis' seizure of power. Philippe. It is precisely in this strategic location that the painter chooses to represent the inauguration ceremony of the Museum of Versailles.


Period placed under the seal of reconciliation between the heritage of the Ancien Régime and that of the Revolution, the July monarchy gives a great place to national history, from which the country must draw a community of memories and a feeling belonging to transcend the divide between the two France. The influence of François Guizot for whom "society to believe in itself needs not to be yesterday" is decisive in this regard. Through his works (History of civilization in France, 1830) and his action for the development of the history of France (in particular through the Society for the History of France and the Service des Monuments Historiques), the leader of the resistance party wants to include the history of France in a centuries-old continuity beyond breaks and jolts in order to "reconnect the chain of time".
However, the new museum dedicated to "All the Glories of France" provided a new conception of history, the staging of which, peculiar to the spirit of the nineteenth century, was to clash with modern aesthetic concepts. Thus Delacroix, who produced for the Galerie des Batailles the Battle of Taillebourg, he exclaimed about the new Versailles museum and its masterpiece: "If ever a picture was historical, I think this is it. It is too much to appear in this museum of Versailles which is so little and when I witnessed the opening of these bizarre galleries I was convinced that my painting would never be there. With Louis-Philippe's Versailles, the break between official commission and avant-garde art was therefore beginning to emerge.
Heim performed this ceremony to the glory of historical painting, the number of which he had helped to increase at Versailles, in a register that recalls the anti-Davidian commitment of his early years. We find here, reinforced by the monumental aspect of the Galerie des Batailles, the expressiveness of his compositions to which his taste for movement and contrasts of light confers a very personal style.

  • battles
  • Orleans (of)
  • Louis Philippe
  • July Monarchy
  • Versailles
  • Museum of the History of France


Guy ANTONETTILouis PhilippeParis, Fayard, 1994 Claire CONSTANSVersaillesParis, Imprimerie Nationale, 1998. Claire CONSTANSVersailles, castle of France and pride of kingsParis, Gallimard, coll. “Découvertes”, 1989.Thomas W. GAEHTGENS “The historical museum of Versailles” in Pierre NORA (under the direction of), Memorial placetome II “La nation”, Paris, Gallimard, 1988, reed. “Quarto”, 1997. Pierre ROSANVALLONThe Guizot MomentParis, Gallimard, 1985.Philippe VIGIERThe July MonarchyParis, PUF, coll. "What do I know? », 1982.

To cite this article

Robert FOHR and Pascal TORRÈS, "Louis-Philippe inaugurates the Gallery of Battles"

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