Paris Sketchbook, Post 12, The Hamlet at Versailles
Marie Antoinette commissioned The Hamlet to be built in 1783 to look like it was set deep in the French countryside rather than on the estate of Versailles. It was a retreat for her children and a gathering place for her friends. There is a small countryhouse, a billards room, smaller cottages built on a lake and small creeks which are surrounded by flower and vegetable gardens and orchards. There is also a small dairy and other farm animals. This was my favorite part of Versailles and is worth the long walk or ride to the back of the estate grounds to enjoy.
In this illustration, I superimposed the Queen with two of her children sitting on the lawn by the lake, as I imagine she loved to do. This part of the painting was inspired by the original hanging in Versailles. The rest of The Hamlet, I painted from my photographs that I took when we were there. I love the familial joy and the desire to provide something more normal for her children that this illustrates!