Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Jean Daret was either lucky or a master of publicity. I've been given the staircase to decorate in Show Houses before, and I'm well aware that it can be an afterthought when it comes to interior design; it's the space nobody else wants to deal with. Daret turned that around in 1654 and made it work for him with spectacular results when he decorated this staircase in Chateaurenard, Aix-en-Provence. Though serving as a hotel, this was a true 'chateau' in the sense in that its exterior resembled nothing less than a bombproof fortress. What a surprise it must have been upon entering to be greeted by these magnificent trompe l'oeil paintings.
In 1660, none other than Louis XIV himself was famously hosted here and was so impressed by Daret that he made him Painter to the King. The story goes that when Louis saw the paintings, he ordered his guards to protect them with their lives during maneuvers. No doubt Daret at 41 was thrilled to have been recognized, and it led to countless orders for work in Aix.