Stephanie Bower

Stephanie Bower | Architectural Illustration: | Sketching Workshops: | Sketches: on Instagram at @stephanieabower & | Urban Sketchers Blog Correspondent | Signature member of the Northwest Watercolor Society

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Adventures of Sketching INSIDE Versailles

While I am still working on my Gabriel Prize images and sketches from Vaux, yesterday I went to Versailles to sketch.  I had been granted permission to sketch the interiors, a very rare opportunity that took weeks to get approved.  So official letter in hand, I battled the thousands of people (literally) in the château and headed straight for what Wikipedia says is one of the most famous rooms in the world , the Galerie des Glaces, or Versaille's famous Hall of Mirrors.

I knew this would be challenging.  I showed my letter to the guard, who read it 5 times and called 2 other people to review it (this is very France), then at last her chief showed up to give the final approval.  Then they were extremely nice.  So in a corner at the very end of the huge space, I plopped down my 3-legged REI stool, INSIDE the cordoned off area to the public, and slowly began to tackle this space.

I must say, it truly exhausted my brain.  The detail is overwhelming, the space is huge, and the hordes of tourists coming by were not only a distraction, but blocked much of my view. And, they took pictures of me!

Still, I knew this was an utterly amazing opportunity, and I HAD to do it...

Below are the three sketches I made of the interiors.  I was not permitted to pull out paints (understandable, as I can't get cobalt blue watercolor onto a rug from the 1600's), so I drew in pencil to be watercolored later.  And I'm nervous about applying the watercolor, so I'm posting the pencil images until I muster up the courage to pull out my paints today.

All in all, this was a great day.  A rare opportunity, a true challenge, and it was very, very fun. I loved it.  I think even Louis XIV would have been happy.

Galerie de Glaces, Château de Versailles, July 30, 2013
click on the image to see it larger.

Corner of the Grand Cabinet de Madame Victoire, Versailles
By brain was mush by this point...

The crowds had thinned out by this point and a very nice DJ from Canada kindly snapped this photo.


  1. I've been following your blog since the beginning and enjoying so much your sketches from Europe. I know your feeling of overwhelm with this interior! A week ago I did some sketching inside a Buddhist temple--I felt like I'd run a marathon when I was done--visual overload! I look forward to seeing what else you do on your trip and your final paintings. Thanks so much for sharing!

  2. Hi Jill, thanks so much for your comment and for following the blog--wow!

    It is so hard with lots to interpret, figuring out what to edit or simplify. I can imagine
    the interior of a Buddhist temple might also be really complex, if it is anything like the ones I saw in Nepal...
    But here's to taking on difficult challenges... and their rewards of doing so~~