Baudet, Étienne (c.1636-1711; French), after Le Brun, Charles (1619-90; French)
Le Grand Escalier de Versailles (1679-83)
Set of 7 engravings
Gift of George Collins Levey 1879
National Gallery of Victoria (p.183.41-1, p.183.43-1 to p.183.47-1 and p.183.49-1)

Levey gift, cat.103-109

[photo: p.183.46-1: l’Amerique]

This suite of prints documents the Italianate ceiling frescoes painted between 1674 and 1680 by Charles Le Brun above the former “Ambassadors’ staircase” at Versailles, a grandiose tribute to Louis XIV, and in particular his victory over the Netherlands (1672-78). Contemporaries were dazzled by the splendour and allegorical complexity of the whole. Unfortunately, however, both the Ambassador’s Staircase and Le Brun’s frescoes were destroyed in 1752, during renovations to the palace carried out for Louis XV.

Payments for the engravings were made to Baudet between May 1679 and July 1683. The prints were later published in a volume of the Cabinet du roi also containing a diagrammatic overview of the staircase ceiling, engraved by Simonneau (not part of Levey’s gift), together with  Audran after Mignard Tableaux de la Voute de la Galerie du Petit Appartement du Roy a Versailles {1879} NGV [PR] [Levey gift, cat.111-113].

Baudet also contributed two engravings to the Tableaux du roi series (see separate entries).

Engravings in the present series are as follows (noting NGV acc.nos.):

  1. Le Grand Escalier de Versailles[title sheet with explanatory text] (p.183.41-1)
  2. [corner] … L’Asie y est representée avec ses Symboles…(p.183.49-1)
  3. [corner] … l’Europe assise sur un trophée d’armes… (p.183.47-1)
  4. [corner] … l’Afrique avec l’Elephant qui est son symbole… (p.183.45-1)
  5. [corner] … l’Amerique y est representée avec ses symbols ordinaires… (p.183.46-1): reproduced above
  6. [central section] … un globe chargé de trois fleurs de lis avec la couronne roiale de France… (p.183.44-1)
  7. [central section] … le Trépié d’Apollon, sur lequel est posée la Couronne roiale de France… (p.183.43-1)


Not listed in NGV 1894 or 1905 

The NGV catalogue includes details and reproductions of all 7 prints; also crediting script engraver Claude-Auguste Berey

See also Suite et arrangement (1727), p.5; Duplessis Cabinet du roi (1869), p.16; and Fuhring Kingdom of Images (2015), cat.22, pp.100-101: entry by Peter Fuhring on the Africa plate, no.4 above, also quoting 17th-century praise for Le Brun’s original decorations