Château de Chantilly
From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
The Château de Chantilly is a historic château located in the town of Chantilly, France. It comprises two attached buildings; the Grand Château, destroyed during the French Revolution and rebuilt in the 1870s, and the Petit Château which was built around 1560 for Anne de Montmorency. It is owned by the Institut de France, and is open to the public.
The estate's connection with the Montmorency family began in 1484. The first mansion (no longer extant, now replaced by the Grand Château) was built in 1528–1531 for the Constable Anne de Montmorency by Pierre Chambiges. The Petit Château was also built for him, around 1560, probably by Jean Bullant. In 1632, after the death of Henri II, it passed to the Grand Condé who inherited it through his mother, a Montmorency.
Several interesting pieces of history are associated with the château during the 17th century. Molière's play, Les Précieuses ridicules, received its first performance here in 1659. Madame de Sévigné relates in her memoirs that when Louis XIV visited in 1671, François Vatel, the maître d'hôtel to the Grand Condé, committed suicide when he feared the fish would be served late.
The original mansion was destroyed in the French Revolution. It was repaired in a modest way by the last Condé, but the entire property was confiscated from the Orléans family between the years 1853 and 1872, during which interval it was owned by Coutts, an English bank. Chantilly was entirely rebuilt in 1875–1881 by Henri d'Orléans, duc d'Aumale (1822–1897) to the designs of Honore Daumet. The new château met with mixed reviews. Boni de Castellane summed up one line of thought: "What is today styled a marvel is one of the saddest specimens of the architecture of our era — one enters at the second floor and descends to the salons". In the end, the Duc d'Aumale bequeathed the property to the Institut de France upon his death in 1897.
During the First World War, Chantilly marked the farthest advance of the German troops in the region. Subsequently it served as headquarters for Joseph Joffre and a number of conferences between the Allies were held there.
The château's art gallery, the Musée Condé, houses one of the finest collections of paintings in France (after the Louvre), with special strength in French paintings and book illuminations of the 15th and 16th centuries. Masterpieces of the art gallery (many of them are in the Tribune Room) include Sassetta's Mystic Marriage of Saint Francis, Botticelli's Autumn, Piero di Cosimo's Simonetta Vespucci, Raphael's Three Graces and Madonna of Loreto, Guercino's Pietà, Pierre Mignard's Portrait of Molière as well as four of Antoine Watteau's paintings. Other paintings in the collection include works by Fra Angelico, Filippino Lippi, Hans Memling, 260 paintings and drawings by François and Jean Clouet, Veronese, Barocci, Annibale Carracci, Domenichino, Salvator Rosa, Nicolas Poussin, Philippe de Champaigne, Van Dyck, Guido Reni, Jean-Baptiste Greuze, Joshua Reynolds, Eugène Delacroix, Ingres, Géricault. The library of the Petit Château contains over 1300 manuscripts and 12,500 printed volumes, including a Gutenberg Bible that is part of the collection of over 700 incunabula), and some 200 medieval manuscripts, with the Registrum Gregorii (983), the famous Les très riches heures du Duc de Berry and 40 miniatures from Jean Fouquet's Book of Hours of Etienne Chevalier taking pride of place.
Park and Chantilly racecourse
The park, featuring extensive parterres and water features, was laid out principally by André Le Nôtre for the Grand Condé. It also contains a French landscape garden with a cascade, pavilions, and a small ornamental village which served as an inspiration for the Hameau de la reine of Marie Antoinette in the Gardens of Versailles.
The estate overlooks the Chantilly Racecourse and the Grandes Écuries (Great Stables) which contains the Living Museum of the Horse. According to legend, Louis Henri, Duc de Bourbon, Prince of Condé believed that he would be reincarnated as a horse after his death. In 1719, he asked the architect, Jean Aubert to build stables suitable to his rank. These 186m long stables are considered by some as the most beautiful in the world.
- The château and the Great Stables were featured in the 1985 James Bond movie A View to a Kill, as the home of villainous Max Zorin (played by Christopher Walken) which was being infiltrated by Bond (played for the last time by Roger Moore) in his quest to find out more about Zorin, who had already aroused suspicions of MI6 with various business activities, and ultimately eliminate him.
- Pink Floyd performed, on two consecutive nights, at the château during The Division Bell Tour on July 30–31, 1994.
- Football player Ronaldo had the ceremony for his short-lived marriage with Daniella Cicarelli on February 14, 2005 in the château.
- Every two years, in June, the "Nuits de Feu" international fireworks competition is held in the château's garden.