Tuesday, November 11, 2008

My European Trip 16 - Azay Le Rideau

Imagine a medieval stronghold built at the far end of an island in the middle of River Indre, protecting the passage from Tours to Chinon for centuries. Built by Gilles Berthelot, a rich financier and member of the Touraine bourgeoisie, the Chateau of Azay le Rideau inaugurated the era of leisure residences that combined the charm of a French-style château with the majesty of an Italian Renaissance palace.

The interior of the chateau is richly furnished and decorated with portraits and historical paintings, for example, the portrait of the Sun King Louis XIV. I saw many of his portraits in Versailles, but the one in Azay le Rideau is unique. It's the Sung King WITHOUT wigs! He was still young and handsome in the painting at an age of less than 30.

Wigs became fashionable, increasing in popularity during the reign of Louis XIV. The king not only wore them to hide his baldness but also to make himself seem taller by means of towering hair. It immediately became a fashion throughout the French royal court. Most portraits you saw today are Louis XIV wearing wigs since he was getting bald around 30. If you want to see a different king, come to Azay le Rideau.

The facade of the chateau is gently reflected in the calm river. It was a beautiful impressionism painting, as you will see in the following slides.

Next Stop: Villandry

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