The Gabriel Staircase, at the entrance to the Grand Apartments at the Château de Versailles, was designed by Ange-Jacques Gabriel in 1772 after the Petit Trianon and the Royal Opera at the palace. Completion of the staircase was delayed from the Revolution – until 1985 – and the monumental space gained a contemporary focal point in 2013.
In 2011, the Palace of Versailles launched a competition for a permanent installation to illuminate the Gabriel Staircase. Versailles has hosted contemporary installations since 2008, but this commission was the Palace’s first permanent installation of a contemporary artwork which was installed in November, 2013.
The project was awarded to Erwan and Ronan Bouroullec who designed an asymmetrical chandelier comprised of three strands of crystal ropes suspended from the ceiling. The Bouroullecs collaborated with Swarovski to manufacture the chandelier, which has some 800 individual crystals and lights that were developed especially for Versailles. The crystals and light modules are threaded over stainless steel and delicately suspended from four points on the ceiling. The result is an illusion of transparency and a quality of light that replicates the ambiance and tones of 18th century candle-lit chandeliers in the nearby apartments.