The “French Door”was first introduced to me as a reader of Ibsen the Norwegian dramatist who carefully outlined the placement of a French door in his setting descriptions. They were ideally placed for the dramatic entrances or exits and punctuated the most dramatic moments at the ends of each act. Enter, the French door and the doorknob.
I first saw Versailles as a young girl, wandering through the empty halls, the renovations were years away and dust and lack of attention, apparent. But the doorknobs were still there, having been left behind after several hundreds of years. Seems no one really thought they were of value, so they simply ignored them, taking instead the things that could be easily carried off. This has saved the doorknobs of Versailles, many of which are still there today.
I have since returned to Versailles for many visits over the last 25 years and with my small portable camera and later cell phone, began to photograph them. To me, each are like small works of art. They decorated the gates, entrances, and doorways of the chateaux. Covered in gold or cast in wrought iron, each doorknob is unique. What also strikes me about the doorknobs is that there is a sense of place, energy and character about them. I couldn’t help but wonder about the many hands that touched the knobs. Where were people going and what were they thinking? When they were opening these doors, were they in a rush or running to meet someone they loved? The energy of the former lives, touching the knobs and transferring this energy: it was a fascination for me to imagine who might have walked through and touched these little works of art as time passed in the halls of Versailles, and in any other old building in Paris. They are everywhere, these little works of art, you simply have to be looking for them while you are running from bus, to metro, to taxi in Paris. Don’t miss them, they’re everywhere and are truly, ARTIFICE at its best.
ARTIFICE photographed Versailles on a sunny day and a doorknob that was the entrance to the kitchens from a hallway, usually not seen on the typical tour.