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Louis-Philippe opening the Galerie des Batailles, 10 June 1837 (painted by François-Joseph Heim)

Central part of the ceiling of the Galerie des Batailles

The Galerie des Batailles (Gallery of Battles) is a 120 metre long and 13 metre wide gallery occupying the first floor of the aile du midi of the Palace of Versailles, joining onto the grand and petit 'appartements de la reine'. It is an epigone of the Grande galerie of the Louvre and was intended to glorify French military history from the Battle of Tolbiac (traditionally dated 495) to the Battle of Wagram (5–6 July 1809).

History

Its creation was the idea of Louis-Philippe I, King of the French and it replaced apartments which had been occupied in the 17th and 18th centuries by

  • Louis XIV's brother Philippe I, Duke of Orléans and his second wife, Elizabeth Charlotte of the Palatinate
  • Philippe II, Duke of Orléans (regent during Louis XV's minority) and his wife
  • the regent's son Louis d'Orléans, Duke of Orléans
  • Princess Maria Josepha of Saxony (1731–1767) as dauphine
  • Charles X of France, whilst comte d’Artois
  • Princess Élisabeth of France

The architects Pierre-François-Léonard Fontaine[1] and Frédéric Nepveu created a solemn decorative scheme for it, with a wide cornice supporting a coffered painted ceiling with entablatures supported by Corinthian columns along the length of the gallery. 13 bronze tablets on the wall are inscribed with the names of princes, admirals, constables, marshals and warriors killed or wounded whilst fighting for France. There are also busts placed on supports against the columns and between the paintings.

The main contents of the rooms, however, were envisaged as the vast paintings showing major military events in French history, some already in existence but mostly specially commissioned for the Galerie. While a number of them were of questionable quality, a few masterpieces, such as the Battle of Taillebourg by Eugène Delacroix, were displayed here.

List of busts and paintings

Floor plan of the Galerie des Batailles

Numbers correspond to plan.

  • 3) Jean-Baptiste Bessiere - Versailles.jpg Jean-Baptiste Bessières, duc d'Istries, maréchal de l'Empire (1768–1813). Artist : François Masson (1745–1807).
  • 4) Henri LXI, prince de Reuss-Schleiz, général de brigade in French service (1784–1813). Artist : Charles-François Lebœuf.
  • 7) Robert d'Artois, son of Otto IV and Mahaut d'Artois (died 1317). Artist : Jean-Jacques Flatters (1786–1845).
  • 8) Hugues Quieret - Versailles.jpg Hugues Quieret, French admiral, died 1340. Artist : Charles Émile Seurre (1798–1858).
  • 9) Nicolas Behuchet - Versailles.jpg Nicolas Béhuchet, French admiral, died 1340. Artist : Bernard Seurre (1795–1867).
  • 10) Commemorative tablet at the north end of the galerie.
  • 11) Commemorative tablet at the north end of the galerie.
  • 14) Walter VI of Brienne, Duke of Athens, constable of France in 1356 (died 1356). Artist : Justin-Marie Lequien (1796–1882).
  • 17) Antoine Louis Charles, comte Lasalle, général de division (1775–1809). Artist : after Auguste Taunay (1768–1824).
  • 19) Jean-Baptiste Cervoni, général de division (1765–1809). Artist : after Pietro Cardelli (1776–1822).
  • 20) Napoleon-imperial-guard.png Battle of Jena, 14 October 1806, 5.43m by 4.65m, showing Napoleon I, Joachim Murat and Louis Alexandre Berthier, dated and signed "Horace Vernet 1836"
  • 21) Jean Lannes.jpg Jean Lannes, duc de Montebello, maréchal de l'Empire (1769–1809). Artist : François Masson (1745–1807).
  • 22) Austerlitz-baron-Pascal.jpg Battle of Austerlitz, 2 December 1805, oil on canvas, sketch after an original that in 1846 was in the Paillet collection, commissioned by Napoleon I for the ceiling of the salle du Conseil d'État at the palais des Tuileries in Paris, showing Napoleon accompanied by Jean Rapp, 9.58m by 5.10m
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