The above images are from the set of the film Marie Antoinette by Sofia Coppola (2006) and serve as inspiration for the lighting restoration of the Varengeville Room to daytime conditions. The film takes place at Versailles and the Paris Opera, but some of the filming was done in Vaux-le-Vicomte, Château de Chantilly, Hôtel de Soubise and the Belvedere in Vienna. These film stills show what these rooms would have looked like using natural sunlight as the primary light source without any candlelight. The rooms have a bluish tint to them and feel sort of lifeless and static without the effects of dramatic highlights and shadows from the candlelight.
The restoration of the Varengeville Room to daytime conditions is completely different than the lighting it is currently in. The current issue with the Varengeville Room is that it includes artificial flames as well as overhead lights, all electric. Additionally, there are no windows in the room, therefore there is no direct source of sunlight. I have used the observation posts as places where the windows would have potentially been, as suggested by Parker in The Hôtel de Varengeville Room and the Room from the Palais Paar: A Magnificent Donation.
The Varengeville Room During the Day
The main image used here is my resized Varengeville Room with the addition of a lady and her servant performing la toilette. The figures are from Boucher’s painting, La Toilette, which I have extracted along with the Oeben table from the Met’s site. The table is opened up to reveal its dual function. We can pretend that the woman on the right is Madame de Pompadour getting ready at the Oeben table with her servant helping her. I have also used a photograph I took of a silver ewer from the Met (similar object here) presented to our class by Curator Jeffrey Munger, and placed it on the table to show what types of containers and other accessories were used during this process as well as its reflective quality. Read more about la toilette here.
Before & After
Left: Resized Varengeville Room created by me.
Right: Using the image on left, I have transformed the lighting quality to make it resemble natural sunlight. The coloration of the room is much less saturated with higher exposure and a bluish tint. The right-most parts of the women and the desk have been highlighted as the source of light is supposed to be emmenating from the right. The women are taken from Boucher’s painting La Toilette, the Oeben table from the Met, and silver ewer photo by me.
Click here to see the Varengeville Room at night…
All Composite Images & Text by Alex Bass
- La Toilette
- Original Use and Space
- The People
- Varengeville Room