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The Taste of Angels

French Decorative Arts in the Age of the Sun King

Tuesday 31 January 2017, 5:30 pm - 7pm


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Louis XIV visiting the Gobelins manufactory, 15 October 1667. Gobelins tapestry designed by Charles Lebrun. From a 14-piece set known as ‘The History of the King’, woven 1665-1679, 510 x 700cm (Versailles: Musée national des châteaux de Versailles et de Trianon)

With the establishment of the Royal Manufactory of the Gobelins in Paris in 1662, France replaced Italy as the tastemaker for the decorative arts in Europe. The Gobelins factory brought together in one place the best Italian, Flemish, Dutch, German and French craftsmen. There, with the benefit of unlimited royal patronage, they created magnificent furniture, tapestries, and silverware for one discerning client – the Sun King, Louis XIV.  The productions of the Gobelins were the envy of the rest of Europe and every European ruler sought to imitate the Sun King’s taste.

This lecture, timed to coincide with the Versailles: Treasures from the Palace exhibition at the National Gallery of Australia and with Te Papa’s own European Splendour 1500-1800, will examine French decorative arts of the so-called “Grand Siècle” or “Great Century” and their influence.

David Maskill is Senior Lecturer in Art History at Victoria University of Wellington. He teaches courses on European art 1600-1800 with a particular interest in French art of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

Feature image: Detail from: Battle of Zama, Gobelin tapestry after Jules Romain, manufactured for Louis XIV in 1688-1690. Louvre Museum.


Members $25, non-members $35 (includes raffle ticket, a glass of wine and free parking)