Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Buffet d' eau or Buffet fountain at Versailles 1703

The Buffet d' eau is an exceptional fountain, designed by Mansart.

When I go to great museum estates, I try to find features that are off the beaten path. Mostly to avoid typical tourist! In the case of the Palace of Versailles fifteen years ago when I first visited the château it was not a overly crowded place as it is today. I discovered the Buffet d' eau or Buffet fountain on the outskirts of the Grand Trianon gardens. The fountain is somewhat off the beaten path as the walk to it is not a grand as it would have originally been. Dirt roads lead to it in the middle of no where. The fountain sits by it self in a forest of greenery without the flowers and statues you see in the rest of the Trianon gardens.

Called the Buffet d' eau because this amazing fountain is shaped like a buffet or serving piece of furniture of the late Louis XIV period. The fountain was built during the fourth building campaign (1699–1710) which was the last building campaign of Louis XIV at Versailles. During this building campaign Louis XIV architect Jules Hardouin-Mansart design the Buffet d' eau it was placed in the Trianon gardens in 1703 .

The fountain is made up of rouge and white marble and ornamented with beautifully detailed bronze & lead sculptures by Mazière, Le Lorrain, Hardy, Poirier and Van Clève. The whimsical figures would have originally been 22k gold leafed making a striking contrasts between the different colored marbles. Upon first seeing the fountain it looks like something out of Disney's The Little Mermaid. There's playful ducks, Mythological water gods and goddess, lobsters, lions and water cupids enjoying the water. This was one of over a thousand fountains at Versailles during the period of Louis XIV, it is my favorite!

Buffet d' eau

Mythological water gods and goddess 

Detail of Mythological water gods and goddess 

Sea man

Sea man

Playful duck

Sea children with lobsters


Water basin

Detail of figures

Detail of figures

How the fontaine du Buffet d'Eau dans les jardins du Grand Trianon looked during the time of Louis XIV by Charles Chatelain                                                                              

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