As just a momentary glimpse of Louis XIV's royal chateau at Versailles makes abundantly clear, the French royal family knew how to live. At least until they all got their heads chopped off.
Over the near century and a half between the Sun King's ascension to the throne and the French Revolution, the royal family amassed one of the most impressive collection of riches in the world. But to see much of the surviving remnants of said fortune, one must decamp across the pond to check the items out firsthand.
Until now. Earlier this month, San Francisco's Legion of Honor entered into an agreement with the Louvre, the preeminent art museum in our sister city of Paris, to show a collection of the royal family's beautiful and historic relics.
Entitled "Royal Treasures from the Louvre: Louis XIV to Marie-Antoinette," the exhibit features a dazzling array of items ranging from a golden coffee grinder to personal snuffboxes used by the infamous family.
"They were always buying contemporary art and to try to have the best in every field," said Louvre director Henri Loyrette told ABC San Francisco. "To look carefully at these objects to see how they are made, and what kind of history they tell. It's also a kind of history of France from Louis XIV to the French Revolution."
Some of the pieces on display are being shown outside France for the first time ever.
This exhibit is just the first part in five-year collaboration between the Louvre and the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco that will consist of "the sharing of significant works of art."
"I can just imagine Louis XIV and Marie Antoinette walking down in front [of the Legion of Honor] and feeling very comfortable with the French neo-classical building that we have," joked San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee during a press conference announcing the collaboration.
The Royal Treasures exhibit runs at the Legion of Honor until March 17, 2013.
Check out some of the pieces below: