Apollo’s Chariot Fountain was lifted from its base in the sumptuous gardens of the Palace of Versailles on Tuesday ahead of an 18-month restoration of the gilded lead sculpture celebrating the Greek god.
It is the first time the iconic artwork by Jean-Baptiste Tuby has been removed from its basin since it was placed there in 1671 during the reign of Louis XIV, also known as the Sun King.
Until now, restoration work had been limited to its surface.
“Apollo has suffered from the impact of time”, Jacques Moulin, head architect at Versailles, told Reuters.
The metal structures that for more than three centuries have been supporting the fountain — consisting of 13 statues and weighing 30 tonnes — have rusted and warped, leaving the fountain in need of critical remedial work, Moulin explained.
“(The damage) is not because of the lead but the metallic structures in each sculpture.”
“Up close, you can clearly see the damage on the sculptures”, Catherine Pegard, president of Chateau de Versailles said, adding that 10 years ago the restoration was already considered urgent.
The restoration work will consist of disassembling the statues, with the 13 sculptures being restored and re-gilded, while the stone base will be strengthened.
“As you know, we are preparing for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. (And) with the horse riding events happening here, we’ll have Apollo’s Chariot, in majestic and flamboyant gold, as a backdrop for those Games”, Pegard said. (Via Reuters)