Over the summer, I visited France with my family and had the opportunity to visit Versailles. Built in 1664, the Palace of Versailles is an incredibly beautiful and lavish, yet disgustingly extravagant and indulgent palace where King Louis XIV lived with his royal family and where his later successors lived as well. While the architecture and decoration of Versailles is really incredible, it was a truly disgusting reflection of King Louis and really underscored the corruptness of the French government prior to the revolution. Upon visiting, I learned that Versailles was a significant factor behind the peasant’s anger. With 2,300 rooms, a court, a lake, and personalized art covering the ceilings and the walls, it was very apparent to me as to why the king’s subjects were so angry. While the peasants were struggling financially to support themselves and had few rights compared to the other classes, the king built an excessive and decadent palace for himself, despite the poor villagers surrounding him. Versailles made me consider the differences of the uses of power in America versus in 18th century France. After the American revolution, a democracy was established to avoid despotic power and promoted the idea that power comes from the people. After visiting Versailles, however, it became clear to me that power in 18th century France before the revolution was corrupt and the king used power for personal gain, as evidenced by the king’s lavish palace. While the American government governs for the people and by the people, the French king prior to the revolution clearly governed for himself. Although this may not be true for all of the king’s accomplishments, the Palace of Versailles evidenced that much of the king’s power was self-interested and that he failed to properly represent the people.
What was very uplifting about my visit to Versailles was the part of the palace that now displays creative and nuanced pieces of modern art that was very unexpected. Below, I have attached a picture of a furry pink helicopter in the middle of a lavish room with different personalized murals all along the wall. I have also included a picture of two giant shoes made out of pots and pans in a similar room. What was uplifting about this exhibit was that it revealed just how much France has developed and the power and significance of the French Revolution. These comedic pieces of art revealed that France has developed from an extreme tyrannical king to a country that supports and encourages personal power and success, similar to the ideals of our government. While the revolution was more than 200 years ago, after seeing this outrageously decadent palace that revealed a corrupt and evil side of human nature, it was interesting and uplifting to find this palace home to nuanced pieces of modern art, revealing the development of France and how its values have changed.