Versailles–Vegas


One more extraordinary piece of furniture at Chateau Versailles! This is the only surviving piece of furniture made for Louis XIV. Furthermore this is the ancestor of the dresser, the first radical breakaway from the world of foot-lockers. You can see that they were erring on the conservative side, not certain if four legs can support the weight of  two sizable drawers. Perhaps the four legs program, when the four legs are projecting like the flying buttresses, wouldn’t be as aesthetically pleasing as the joining of all eight supports coming from above and from below. The commode is decorated with the tortoise shell and copper, plus the gilded bronze of the sphinxes.

What was the function of the piece? They probably kept the card decks and chips there. That would make quite a few of them, for sure. We are talking about the nights when practically all of the Court and their Parisian guests got together for a Vegas style marathon of ambigue, the ancestor of today’s poker. Yes, Viva Versailles! Versailles was the Las Vegas of today. Under all the three kings, Louis XIV, Louis XV, and Louis XVI, this was the hot spot where the stakes were frighteningly high. Everyone was a gambler!

And under Louis XIV, one of the best players was Marquis Dangeau. A soldier, a poet and the gambler, Marquis Dangeau made his fortune winning at cards. Colbert complained about him to the king. And Louis himself had been watching Dangeau very closely, but had to recognise the marquis as an honest although exceptionally skilled player.

One time, while playing at the same table with Louis XIV, Dangeau asked the king for a lodging at Saint-Germain Palace where the choice players were going to meet. The king agreed, provided that Dangeau made his request in a poem hundred lines long, composed during the next game. Dangeau accepted the challenge. Then, after winning a very fast-paced game, he submitted his written request. It was a beautiful composition, and the number of lines in it was exactly one hundred. 

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