Looking northwest from behind the Versailles palace, we have a wide view of the gardens and park. The Apollo Fountain is in the foreground, the Grand Canal in the rear.
In the middle, as of 2015, was an installation by the British artist Anish Kapoor, born in India in 1954. The installation was entitled “Dirty Corner” and was intended to remind us what this place originally looked like, when it was just a patch of swamps, woods and grasslands, before King Louis XIV commissioned André Le Nôtre to create the gardens starting in 1661.
Here the gardens and some of the visitors are reflected in the Sky Mirror, a mirror-sculpture made by Anish Kapoor in 2013.
The C-Curve is a mirror-sculpture that was made in 2007 by Anish Kapoor. It was installed (as of 2015) directly behind the Versailles Palace, with the concave side facing northwest, towards the gardens and away from the palace. The concave side turned everything upside-down, including of course the people who were looking at it.
When you went around to the convex side of the C-Curve, everything appeared right-side-up, including and palace and the people and even you as you were taking your photo.
The back façade of the palace in the convex side of the C-Curve. The pillars on the first floor of the palace (i.e. one flight up, that would be the second floor to Americans) mark the location of Louis XIV’s Hall of Mirrors, inside the palace.
One of the defining features of French 17th-century formal gardens is that the trees aren’t just allowed to grow any old way, but are cut into uniform shapes and lined up in a row like soldiers, presumably to show that they like everything else they are subject to the will of the king.
Here we have two rows of uniform pointy trees on the left. Behind the row of statues on the right we have a huge neatly trimmed hedge, about three times as high and ten times as long as the hedge in front of my house in Frankfurt. In the 17th century it must have taken dozens of full-time gardeners to keep these hedges trimmed, and even now with electric or gas-powered hedge-trimmers and mobile elevated work platforms it still must involve considerable work.
Here is another view of the gardens, looking west. Just beyond the edge of the gardens, hidden by the trees on the left, is a town called Saint-Cyr-l’École, which was the site of Madame de Maintenon’s boarding school for impoverished aristocratic girls, financed and supported by her husband King Louis XIV.
Location, aerial view and photos on monumentum.fr.
My photos in this post are from 2015. I revised the text in 2017.
See more posts on Versailles, France.