The representation of history in the collections of the Museum of the Palace of Versailles

Duration: 2017-2019

This line of research on the representation of history in the collections of the Museum of the Palace of Versailles is linked to the prospect of redeployment historical galleries of Versailles.

Planned in 1833 and inaugurated in 1837, the History Galleries at Versailles began to be dismantled in 1892, when Pierre de Nolhac was appointed curator of the Museum of the Palace of Versailles.

This line of research will precede the start of the architectural and museographic refurbishment of the North and South wings, planned to begin in 2022 as part of the third phase of the Établissement public de Versailles’ master plan.
It is therefore a highly important area of research, as the results will aid the work of the museum’s conservation team in building a museographic programme that will act as a statement of work for the architects and museographers involved in the project.

The study of the representation of history in the Versailles collections will take several approaches:

  • Defining a corpus of works from the 7,000 paintings (5,000 portraits, 2,000 history scenes) and 1,500 sculptures (mainly portraits) that form the collections in the History Galleries; taking account of the works deposited by Versailles; possibly using works conserved in other institutions to fill any gaps.
  • Historical analysis: Middle Ages and Renaissance; Modern period (Bourbons); Revolution and Empire; 19th - 20th centuries.
  • Historiographic analysis: period when the artwork was created; the message expressed by the work in the history galleries.
  • Analysis of collections assembled in the time of Louis-Philippe: series of artworks; museographic mise-en-scenes.

Research can be undertaken as part of a Masters II, as a thesis for the École des chartes or as a doctoral thesis. Students will be able to meet the Versailles conservators and have access to the artworks and documentary resources.
The Centre de recherche du château de Versailles will award one or several study grants, worth up to 7,500 euros, and will remunerate some sessions.

Steering Committee

Representatives of the founder members of the G.I.P. CRCV and experts: Laurent Avezou, professor of history at the Lycée Pierre-de-Fermat in Toulouse (preparatory class for the École des chartes); Philippe Boutry, Président of the Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne; Chantal Grell, Professor at the Université de Versailles Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines; Barthélemy Jobert, Président of the Université Paris-Sorbonne – Paris IV; Jean-Marie Le Gall, Professor at the Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne; Jean-Michel Leniaud, Professor at the École nationale des chartes; Philippe Luez, General curator for Heritage, Director of the Musée national de Port-Royal-des-Champs; Gérard Sabatier, Professor Emeritus of Modern History at the Université Pierre Mendès-France – Grenoble II, President of the Scientific Committee of the Centre de recherche du château de Versailles; Thierry Sarmant, Head of the Department of Archives at the Historical Service of the château de Vincennes.

Conservateurs au château de Versailles: Lionel Arsac, Curator at the Department of Sculptures; Gwenola Firmin, Curator at the Paint department; Frédéric Lacaille, Chief Heritage curator at the Paint department; Béatrice Sarrazin, General curator for Heritage, responsible for the Paint department.

Centre de recherche du château de Versailles: Alexandre Maral, Director; Mathieu da Vinha, Scientific Director; Matilde Cassandro-Malphettes, Secretary General ; Laurent Cazes, Researcher.

Production planned

  • Symposium “Quel musée d’histoire pour Versailles au XXIe siècle?” (château de Versailles, Spring 2019).

Call for papers

Consult our call for papers related to this area of research on the Bulletin du Centre de recherche.

Website produced with the support of:
Château de Versailles
Conseil général des Yvelines