Friday, February 5, 2010

Petit Trianon: Dining Room

Much like it's neighbor, Versailles (which it is said to have had the first room dedicated entirely to private dining, setting the fashion), the Petit Trianon has a devoted dining room. The room is one of two with a crystal chandelier instead of the more typical lantern.
The dining room, seen here in blue, lies just above the anteroom, the first room in the set of apartments.
One of the most famous stories about the PT is that the dining room had a mechanical dining table which rose out of the floor from the kitchen below. This way, dinner guests did not need to be waited on by servants and could eat in private. Unfortunately, the table was never completed but the foundation for the device was built and can still be seen in the basement.
The dining room is set on direct axis with the French Pavilion, seen through the windows above. French houses always seem to have the view as an important end goal: whether seen through an enfilade of rooms or at the end of an allee of trees. I think this is one of the reasons that the French style of architecture remains so popular: great views make for great spaces.
The dining room features some handsome dark wood chairs. Out of all of the rooms, the dining room felt the most masculine and the most strongly neoclassical, despite the red silk curtains!
A beautiful bust of Marie Antoinette rests above the fireplace in front of a large mirror. Directly across the room, between the french doors is an identical mirror. As meals would be eaten here by candelight, magnifying the light from the precious candles was of utmost importance. I suppose that is the practical reason for the crystal and the mirrors, but the glamour factor must have been part of the decision as well! To this day, dining rooms tend to be the most glamorous room in any house.
I just couldn't get over how beautiful all of the door hardware was and even the doors themselves so I'll end here with another great door shot! Also notice the beautiful Parquet de Versailles styled floors.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Dinner at Eight

This past weekend I had a few friends over for dinner and they were nice enough to let me interrupt the party to photograph the table settings for the weekly Tablescape Thursdays!
I took the first picture before plating the salad course - caprese salad with a nice rose wine.
Plates are Decre Freres, Theodore Haviland Limoges, silver is freshly polished Prelude for International Silver, crystal is Waterford. Alabaster table lamp is a touch that makes it feel like an old supper club to me (from restoration hardware) and candlesticks are venetian glass from Aero in NY. I didn't get any flowers because they seem a bit much for a casual winter dinner.
For the entree course, I used my favorite cuckoo pattern dinner plates from Wedgwood. S&P shaker are mother of pearl from pottery barn. Napkins are antique irish linen from ebay (the best Christmas gift ever!). Here is what we had (ignore the lamp cord!) - roast beef with carrots, potatoes and celery -a hearty winter meal on a snowy day. For dessert (lemon pound cake with fresh whipped cream) I used the bread plates for Wedgwood 'Cuckoo', the small coffee service is antique Austrian by Ernst Wahliss, the teacups are antique Minton and the sugarbowl is cobalt jasperware by Wedgwood.
Just a close up. After all of the wine we needed some sparkling water!The tea (violet from Laduree) was served on my sideboard from my wedgwood 'cuckoo' teapot. The sterling tea strainer was NOT fun to polish after a few years of not being used! Crystal candlesticks I brought back from my trip to Paris in the fall.
Thanks for bringing the champagne! Champagne flutes by Baccarat.
The evening had some ups and downs -the foil from the champagne gave me a nasty cut which would NOT stop bleeding! The rest of the rose was the best medicine......
I love simple meals like this with very little mess (especially in a tiny apt). The huge roast beef (which i'll be eating for a week!) was accompanied by roasted carrots, celery and potatoes cooked with butter, garlic and sage. I LOVE the pattern on my potholders -the chickens always make me smile (from william sonoma)! I hope you enjoyed the meal as much as we did!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Petit Trianon: antechamber

I thought I would begin the tour of Marie Antoinette's personal rooms with her monogram. This metalwork of her initials are the doorknobs (modern) of the tour entrance to the Petit Trianon, where the gift shop is. You are then led through the service courtyard, along the rough stone corridor, through the guards chamber, up the grand staircase and arrive at the Antechamber or anteroom (follow all that without getting lost?).
This is a small room which seperates the 'public' grand stairhall from the dining room. The room continues the beautiful soft green seen in the billiards room but with more highly finished boiseries. As this building is done in the neoclassical style (and for me is the epitome of it), the boiseries are delicate: narrow stiles and rails with restrained ornamentation.
You see the room above off the grand stairhall in blue. The single window on the left faces the formal French Garden with the view culminating at the French Pavilion. The 2 windows on the bottom of the plan face the entry courtyard. The French garden was left in the more formal style put in place by Madame de Pompadour and Louis XV while the rest of the gardens were done in a more casual 'English' garden style favored at the time, as witnessed today when you visit. The room is lit by a traditional french lantern befitting the style. Under the lantern you see the top of the famous Portrait of MA, 'Marie Antoinette a la rose' by Elizabeth Vigee-Lebrun.
The portrait was hurriedly comissioned in 1783 after the first portrait of Marie Antoinette by Lebrun created a scandal for the informal way in which she was depicted. So in this portrait, she is shown in high 'court' style in full makeup and satin gown.
The room has 2 beautiful white marble busts on columns flanking the window with the garden view, but unfortuantely I can't remember who they are!
The doors leading into the dining room have a more ornate boiserie and again, beautiful gilded bronze hardware. Imagine carving all of this by hand!