Louis XIV’s Medal Cabinet

This project seeks to recreate Louis XIV’s lost Medals Cabinet at Versailles using 3D modelling tools to render a digital architectural space that can to be virtually repopulated with the objects that the room once contained. 3D models of medals and other objects will be rendered with photogrammetry to made available online. When Swedish architect Nicodemus Tessin the Younger (1654–1728) visited France for the third time in 1687 he wrote a memoir of the extraordinary things that he had seen there. Alongside his account of the more famous gardens, galleries and salons of the palace of Versailles is an extended description of Louis XIV’s Cabinet des Médailles—one of the most opulent rooms in the château. The walls of the Cabinet were covered with mirrors, it had a coffered dome decorated in lapis lazuli blue with gilt rosettes, and gold stucco work abounded. The room held a precious collection of cabinet paintings by some of the great early-modern masters, small silver and bronze statuettes, extraordinary engraved gems, and armoires filled with more than 27,000 coins and medals. Most of the items that this room contained are now held in public collections in Paris, and there is a detailed architectural plan of the space. But remarkably, the only extant elevation of a room in Louis XIV’s Versailles that Mlle. de Scudéry described as “infinitely superior to all that has been seen…” is a tiny sketch by Tessin. Very little remains of what was once the most lavish space in the château, remodelled in the mid-eighteenth century to accommodate the royal family, eventually becoming Louis XVI’s Salon des Jeux in the 1780s.

Related publications:

Antiquarianism and the Visual Histories of Louis XIV: Artifacts for a Future Past (Ashgate, 2015) ch. 3

“Louis XIV’s Medals Cabinet at Versailles,” The Medal 67 (Autumn, 2015): Louis_XIVs_medal_cabinet_at_Versailles_T

Related conference presentations:

“Strikes, prints, stamps and inlays for the decorative display of Louis XIV’s medals,” in Print culture and the decorative arts, 1500-1800: towards an expanded field, Art Association of Australia and New Zealand Annual Conference, Melbourne, December 2013.