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Château de Versailles - "Imperial silks for Versailles" exhibition


From 19 March to 23 June 2024, the Grand Trianon is hosting an exhibition devoted to NapoleonI 's exceptional order to the Lyonnais silk manufacturers to re-furnish the Château de Versailles.

In partnership with the Mobilier national, the exhibition looks at the historical background to this commission, the manufacturing techniques used and the creation of these 80 km of silks. Never used because of the fall of the Empire, this collection of textiles is now in an exceptional state of preservation.

In February 1810, Napoleon I, who wanted to refurbish Versailles, placed an order with the silk manufacturers in Lyon. At a time of economic crisis for the silk manufactures, the Lyons silk manufacturers delivered no less than 80 km of fabric to the Imperial Furniture Guard in the space of 2 years. This exhibition, organised by the Château de Versailles and the Mobilier National, looks back at the history of this major order, with a unique collection of 120 silks.

The first part of the exhibition looks at the historical and economic background to this commission, with original samples and archive documents illustrating the involvement of the various people involved. Advances in the textile industry are also presented, with a Jacquard-mechanical weaving machine and investigative techniques in chemistry and dyeing.

The second part of the exhibition is devoted to the architectural developments envisaged by Napoleon for Versailles, which gave rise to the commission. Architectural debates and changes in taste between the Ancien Régime and the early 19th century are explored, notably through drawings by Jacques Gondoin.

An expression of Lyon's silk-making expertise
Through a collection of 120 silks, the exhibition highlights the designs for Versailles proposed by the various silk manufacturers in Lyon. The 80 km of fabrics delivered in 1813 and never used under the First Empire bear witness to the unexpected originality of the colours and patterns used. The silk manufacturers of Lyon, boosted by this considerable order, vied with each other to satisfy the Emperor and his wife.

The exhibition also looks at the future of these silks, particularly under the July Monarchy and the Second Empire.

Exceptionally, the Emperor's flat at the Grand Trianon will be open to the public during the exhibition. Samples of the original Lyonnais fabrics are displayed alongside the textile reconstructions.

General information



From 19/03 to 23/06/2024, daily except on May 1st.


Full price: from 12 € (Price of the "Estate of Trianon" ticket), Reduced price: from 8 € (Valid rate, on presentation of proof of entitlement, for :
- Recipients of a large family card.
- Beneficiaries of a card from the Société d'amis des musées nationaux.
Please note that payment by Chèques-Vacances (ANCV) can only be made on site.).

Free admission: upon presentation of proof of age, for :
- Under-18s and under-26s resident in the EU,
- Paris Museum Pass holders,
- Disabled people and their carers,
- Teachers with an Education Pass,
- Jobseekers in France...
For a full list of those entitled to free admission and reductions, please visit the Château de Versailles website.

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Contact details

Château de Versailles - "Imperial silks for Versailles" exhibition
Grand Trianon
Domaine de Trianon
78000 Versailles