A new book yields unseen photos of the most famous palace in the world.
In 1793, as Marie Antoinette sat imprisoned in a cell in Paris’s Conciergerie, France’s revolutionary government was facing a war against Spain, Portugal, Prussia, Britain, and the Netherlands.
Desperate for cash, the government organized a series of auctions as part of a massive, year-long liquidation of the royal collection. “A number of things were sold, but certain pieces were set aside that they wanted to save,” says Daniëlle Kisluk-Grosheide, a curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Other works were simply given to army suppliers in lieu of payment. “They had no money, so they’d pay them with artwork,” she says. In the span of just a few years, the contents of Versailles, a palace that consisted of more than 2,000 rooms, were spread around the world.