Illustration by Charles Emmanuel Patas
The coronation of Louis XVI, who succeeded to the throne as King of France in 1774, took place on 11 June 1775 in Reims Cathedral in accordance with a historical tradition dating back to the Middle Ages.
The book now on display presents a detailed description of the different rituals involved in this ceremony, which confirmed the divine right of the King. It also describes the preparation of the ephemeral structures that were used to host the Royal event with distinction. The ceremony was celebrated with great pomp, from the King’s arrival in Reims two days before the coronation to his departure for Paris, before which he performed an act of clemency granting freedom to prisoners. The description also includes all of the appropriate prayers for each moment.
The red morocco binding used to cover this copy is decorated à la dentelle in a composition consisting of tooled stylised leaves and gold dots, a combination which creates a delicate effect that was very much in fashion at the time. In the centre of both the front and back cover are the coat-of-arms of Louis XVI (Versailles, 1754–Paris, 1793) and Marie Antoinette (Vienna, 1755–Paris, 1793), who married in 1770.
Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. Descamps-Scrive Collection (ex-libris). Acquired by Calouste Gulbenkian through Giraud-Badin at the sale of the Descamps-Scrive Collection, 23 March 1925 in Paris (lot 133).
H. 21.7 cm; W. 14.8 cm
Geoffrey de Bellaigue, 'The Coronation Books of Three Kings of France', Apollo, 1965, pp. 384–91.
Yves Devaux, Dix siècles de Reliure. Paris: 1977, pp. 166–4.
Chefs-d’œuvres du Musée Gulbenkian de Lisbonne. Meubles et Objets Royaux du XVIIIe Siècle Français, exhibition catalogue. Versailles: Château de Versailles et de Trianon, 2000, p. 62, no. 16.
Peter Fuhring, 'Libros de fiesta y exequias celebradas en la corte de Francia', in La Real Biblioteca Pública de Felipe V a Fernando VI – 1711–1760, exhibition catalogue. Madrid: Biblioteca Nacional, 2004, pp. 285–99, 469, 503–4.
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