Le Petit Trianon was a small but elegant palace in the gardens of Versailles, which Louis XVI gave to his teenage Austrian bride Marie Antoinette. The young queen Marie welcomed a private refuge from the abundance of formal ceremony of the court at the grand palace, and she was able to relax in a more rustic setting alongside her “hameau” or little farm.
This ornate metal banister in Le Petit Trianon caught my eye, and I am intrigued by the symbols in the design. First, I see the monogram of Marie Antoinette (“MA”), and next I see some chickens, perhaps a reference to her farm. I would be interested to hear from a scholar about the types of leaves that are represented here, laurel leaves?
Soon after I flew home from the Wild West of Wyoming, I found myself booking a flight to Rhode Island to help out with the grandchildren. I can’t say no to an invitation like that! In fact, I got myself to Newport a day early so I could visit a few of the historic mansions built by American Industrialists at the turn of the century (c. 1900).
Rosecliff is a gleaming white mansion inspired by Le Petit Trianon, Marie Antoinette’s private retreat in the gardens of Versailles, near Paris, France. Silver heiress Theresa Fair Oelrichs commissioned architect Stanford White to design and build Rosecliff in 1899. It was completed in 1902 and was often the setting for lavish parties. This elegant home has a grand ballroom in its center that spills out to a grassy lawn, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. You may recognize it as the setting for the movie The Great Gatsby. If you are very fortunate, you may have attended a wedding reception here.
I found it interesting to learn that the exterior may look like white marble, but it is actually made of white ceramic, which was made more quickly and economically in molds.
This weekend, I’ll have the opportunity to compare Rosecliff with its inspiration, Le Petit Trianon in France, as I am currently visiting France and hope to tour Versailles this weekend.
If you are interested in touring Rosecliff or other properties like the Breakers, The Elms, or Marble House, refer to the Newport Mansions website for hours and admission fees.