The Duke d’Aumale’s bequest included his extraordinary art collection, meticulously assembled over his lifetime. In fact, his fervor and commitment to compiling these works made him one of the greatest collectors of all time. Today, the Musée Condé in the Château de Chantilly is one of the premier museums in France and houses an unrivaled ensemble of paintings, drawings, and photographs, rare books and manuscripts, and decorative arts. These masterpieces have remained in their original display as arranged by the Duke d’Aumale and detailed in the terms of his gift.
Paintings and Drawings
The Musée Condé’s holding comprises 7,000 Old Master paintings, drawings, and prints by the most renowned artists from the French and Italian Renaissance to the Romantic period. Not only does it boast the world’s largest group of French Renaissance portraits – with the personal collection of Queen Catherine de’ Medici forming the core, the Museum also possesses what is arguably the best ensemble of watercolors and engravings depicting the courts of the Bourbon, Condé, and Orléans families during the 17th and 18th centuries. Italian masters are also strongly represented through masterpieces by Botticelli, Raphael, Michelangelo, Parmigianino, and Primaticcio, not to mention the Mona Vanna formerly attributed to Leonardo da Vinci.
Rare Books and Manuscripts
A passionate bibliophile, the Duke d’Aumale possessed a vast library of some 50,000 volumes dating from the 10th century to contemporary times. He acquired some of the greatest known treasures of medieval manuscript illumination such as the Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry and the Livre d’Heures d’Etienne Chevalier as well as 700 incunabula and thousands of other rare specimens. Included in the holding are precious works originating or inherited from the collections of the Dukes de Montmorency and Princes de Condé as well as invaluable family archives, correspondence, and maps and plans.
Decorative Arts and Furniture
In addition to the art galleries, library, and archives, the Château de Chantilly comprises spectacular staterooms and private chambers of the Princes de Condé and of the Duke and Duchess d’Aumale. These Grands and Petits Appartements offer a unique insight into an authentic, princely estate, and showcase the opulence and refinement of 18th- and 19th-century French decorative arts at their height. On view are exquisite examples of woodwork, paneling, painted ensembles, case and seat furniture, and objets d’art ranging in style from the Regency to the reign of Louis-Philippe.