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Kings of The Castle

"The French are very territorial about Versailles, so I was pleasantly surprised to see how well they reacted to an American and a German writing about it," said Bernd Dams, the German half of the duo, who co-authored "Palaces of the Sun King"...

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From “Palaces of the Sun King”

From “Palaces of the Sun King.”

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"The French are very territorial about Versailles, so I was pleasantly surprised to see how well they reacted to an American and a German writing about it," said Bernd Dams, the German half of the duo, who co-authored "Palaces of the Sun King" (Rizzoli), a compilation of illustrations and architectural history of the 21 chateaux commissioned by Louis XIV. The first shipment sold out in Paris, and judging from the crowd at Didier Aaron in New York on Wednesday night — there to toast its publication with both Dams and his American counterpart, Andrew Zega — its Stateside release will be just as big a hit.

As guests mingled, gazing at the walls hung with exquisite watercolor originals from the book, Dams explained how he and Zega, who met as architects at Robert A.M. Stern, collaborate. In the past 12 years, they’ve published books on garden vases and French follies and are currently at work on their next tome commemorating Central Park.

"I do the faintest pencil drawing," said Dams, "and then Andrew does the watercolor."

"Then we thrash it out together, until we’re both satisfied with what we have," added Zega, adding that the process isn’t exactly hasty. "This one took five years."