A masterpiece of the gardens of Louis XIV. in the Palace of Versailles, the symbolic bowl of Apollo is currently being restored.
It was just 100 years ago. In 1923, a major campaign began to restore the Apollo Basin at the Palace of Versailles. This lasted until 1927. After that, only occasional interventions were made in 1955 and 1981, mainly because the horses’ heads were falling.
Suffice it to say that although it has always been subject to regular maintenance, it was high time to give this emblematic fountain of the Sun King gardens a face.
Allegory of Apollo’s pool to the glory of the Sun King
Located in the center of the Grande Perspective, at the end of the Royal Avenue that leads from the château to the Grand Canal, it figures in the allegorical and mythological significance of the gardens desired by Louis XIV, Apollo “the sun god”. launched on his chariot drawn by four horses in a mad race symbolizing the rising stars of the day”, recalls the Palace of Versailles.
The imposing sculptural group weighing approximately 30 tons – a major work by Jean-Baptiste Tuby produced in the Gobelins factory between 1668 and 1670 – required a new renewal of the wingspan, which was exposed to climatic hazards and the effects of water elements. The castle mentions not only structural deformations related to corrosion of internal structures, deep lead changes and severe erosion of surface coverings, but also current water effects that are disorganized and very far from the original historical design.
18 month recovery campaign
Supported by the sponsorship of the CMA CGM Group (a French container ship owner whose world headquarters are in Marseille), work began in December 2022. It will be spread over 18 months. Completely removed, the sculpture group will see their thirteen statues – Apollo accompanied by love on his chariot, his four horses, Newts and dolphins – completely restored and gilded in the workshop.
At the same time, the stone base will be strengthened and the hydraulic network restored by the workers of the castle fountain. Which restores the original water effects once the sculpt group has rested. Note that the lighting of the pool and its sculpture will also be redesigned.