National Geographic : 1925 Jan
TIE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE Photograph by Clifton Adams LOOKING INTO TIIE GALERIE DES GLACES FROM THE SALON DE LA GUERRE "Kenmore," the historic home of Colonel Fielding Lewis, brother-in-law of George Wash ington, at Fredericksburg, Virginia, presents an illustration of the far-reaching influence of the decorations at Versailles. In this old house, among the chief things of interest are the ceilings decorated in plaster relief by Hessian prisoners of war from designs by General Washington. They are in the French classic style, and in one room the centerpiece is the conventionalized flaming sun of Louis Quatorze, with nothing less than a portrait of Louis himself in its center. voy to France, saw Versailles as a private citizen during a visit to Europe in 1767, while Louis XV was still king. Later he visited it officially, when he and his fellow negotiators appeared there in connection with the ratification of the Franco-Amer ican alliance signed in 1778. On his official visit, it is related that he was attired in correct court costume, ex cept that he wore no formal wig, much to the dismay of the attendants charged with the responsibility of enforcing court etiquette down to the minutest detail. A wigmaker had previously endeavored to remedy the omission from his stock of wigs, none of which could be made to fit. "Your wigs are all too small," remarked Dr. Franklin. "Not at all," replied the wigmaker, "Monsieur's head is far too large !" Marie Antoinette showed special favor to Franklin and enjoyed conversing with him about the new country, in which her interest had been aroused by General La fayette. The American newspapers of the day rallied him not a little about this intimacy and the New Hampshire Gazette printed a story in which he is alleged to have gallantly told her that the little bit of electricity he had stolen from Jove did not compare with that fire she had taken for her eyes. To tell the whole story of Versailles requires the space of at least one good sized book, for the place is replete with the interest of art and history in an era of splendor. To the uninformed traveler bored with the sights of Europe, it is outstanding in its magnificence, and to those whose reading has brought even a superficial acquaintance with its wonders, the time spent there is all too short.