The Google Art Project has generated a lot of discussion this week! Perhaps a comment on the positive aspects of this collaboration is in order, using the Palace Versailles as an example;
When viewing the Chateau with the separate floor plan application, I noticed several small things. If you are fortunate enough to view the rooms on a tour, the velvet rope keeps the visitor at a distance from appreciating the art in personal manner. The room is only accessible from a small area in the physical sense, but on the Art Project, you can view the artworks in extreme close magnification. While scanning around the room, take a moment to look at the ceiling. I hope the Art Project will be able to use their hi-res technology on the art work available above us. Each room’s ceiling has a highly detailed painting with accents along the soffit line.
This ceiling decoration is ‘Abundance and Liberty’ (1683) by Rene Antoine Houasse (1645-1710). A pupil of Charles Le Brun, the official painter of Louis XIV, together they worked on the decoration of the Grand Apartments and the Grand Trianon.
The Abundance Room was the anteroom to King Louis XIV’s Cabinet of Curiosities. The King liked to show-off the gifts he received of silver wares, vases, gems and medals which inspired the decor of the vault. A particular treasure was the royal vessel depicted above the doorway.
The King’s vessel, a precious object in the form of a dismantled ship, was placed on the sovereign’s table on special occasions. This symbol of power, which all had to salute as they passed, contained the king’s serviette (napkin).
If not for the access of the Google Art Project these works would only be accessible to the select group that can afford such a visit to this magnificent place of history. Through this collaboration, great works and their history can be viewed by everyone, discussed, shared, their legacy still relevant.