➺ Skip to the Clouet Room
➺ Skip to the Caroline Room
➺ Skip to the Orléans Room / Chantilly Porcelain Gallery
➺ Make a contribution to the renovation project
When the Duke d’Aumale inherited Chantilly in 1830, only the “Petit Château” built during the Renaissance remained intact, the larger castle dating from the 14th to the 18th centuries having been destroyed during the French Revolution.
Decades later, after amassing the finest private collection of Old Master paintings and drawings, furniture, and precious manuscripts, the Duke commissioned the architect Honoré Daumet to rebuild the “Grand Château.” Construction began in 1876 and finished, for the most part, in 1882. The new building, in the Neo-Renaissance style, was comprised of a chapel, living quarters, grand reception rooms, and paintings galleries.
The private apartments were intended for the Count of Paris, the Duke d’Aumale’s nephew and heir to the French throne, and his wife. After 1889, the Duke converted these rooms into additional galleries for his ever-growing art collection. Known as the “Logis,” they contain works by some of the most prominent French artists (Fra Angelico, Clouet, Watteau, Largillière, Delacroix, Géricault, Ingres…) as well as antiquities from Greece, Rome, Pompeii and Egypt.
These seven galleries are currently undergoing an important renovation program which includes the restoration of the paintings and their frames, creation of new wall hangings and trimmings to replicate the original fabrics from the Duke d’Aumale’s time, and improvements to the lighting. At the end of this major initiative, the Logis Galleries will once again be superb showcases for the Duke’s treasures.
Each week, a new video (in French with English subtitles) will be added here, featuring one of the rooms in the Logis wing. In every episode, Nicole Garnier and Mathieu Deldicque will share stories about the gallery, present highlights from the collection and discuss the upcoming renovation.
Credits: Henrik Frans de Cort, Chantilly, View from the Garden, 1781 © RMN-Grand Palais (domaine de Chantilly) / Thierry Ollivier; anonymous, Château de Chantilly, 1845 © RMN-Grand Palais (domaine de Chantilly) / René-Gabriel Ojeda; Adolphe Chappuis, Façade of the Château de Chantilly, 1880-1892 and anonymous, Château de Chantilly, View from the Garden, early 20th century © RMN-Grand Palais (domaine de Chantilly) / Michel Urtado; anonymous, Entrance to the Logis from the Courtyard, Salon d’Orléans and Minerva Rotunda, early 20th century © Réunion des musées nationaux-Grand Palais (domaine de Chantilly); introductory video © Gaspard Gosset – GGProduction.
Episode 1 – Clouet Room
The first room in the Logis presents 90 Renaissance portraits hung densely from floor to ceiling on three walls. The core of this extraordinary collection was acquired by the Duke d’Aumale, who had a great passion for this period. After all, Chantilly was the residence of the Constable Anne de Montmorency, who served all five Valois kings during the 16th century, before it passed to the Bourbon-Condé and finally to the Duke. This holding was enlarged in 1939 by a group of portraits from the Château d’Azay-le-Rideau donated by the Vicomtesse de Poncins-Biencourt.
The portraits in Chantilly’s collection – the largest such holding in the world – are for the most part attributed to Jean Clouet (who worked as painter and valet for Francis I as early as 1516), his son François Clouet (who inherited his father’s positions and served as official portraitist for Henri II, François II and Charles IX), and their workshop but also to their rivals and followers Corneille de Lyon, Augustin Quesnel, Germain Le Mannier, Jean Decourt, Marc Duval and others. Collectively, they carried on the art of French portraiture throughout the 16th century.
The Clouet Room is an illustrated social diary of the French Renaissance: kings and queens (and let’s not forget the mistresses), princes and princesses, and prominent members of the aristocracy, from the reign of Charles VII (1403 – 1461) to the court of Henri IV (1553 – 1610), can all be found here. Catherine de’ Medici and her children are represented several times; European monarchs like the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, Mary Tudor and Anne Boleyn are also pictured. Such portraits were often used to negotiate marriages, offered as diplomatic gifts or simply kept as family mementos.
While most of the sitters are depicted in the same manner – half-length, three-quarter view against a neutral background – there is also an incredible amount of detail and attention given to the rendering of the faces, clothing, accessories and jewelry in each portrait. Some are even surprisingly whimsical like the painting of Henri II as a child holding a little dog.
This collection would be incredible on its own but Chantilly is also home to 366 portrait drawings by Jean and François Clouet and their workshop, the majority of which belonged to Catherine de’ Medici. A group of drawings representing court ladies were presented in the exhibition Clouet. Le miroir des dames in 2019.
Initially, in the 1870s, the Duke d’Aumale hung the paintings in the Psyche Gallery, along the wall facing 16th-century stained glass windows from the Château d’Ecouen. They were moved to their current location in the Logis Galleries in 1889 (because the Duke preferred to exhibit his newly acquired collection of Clouet drawings in the Psyche Gallery against expert advice about exposure to light!).
The current renovation work in the Clouet Room includes, first and foremost, the restoration and cleaning of the precious portraits and their frames. The wall hanging will be replaced by a new fabric in a deep, ruby-red color, identical to the one that originally hung in this room during the Duke d’Aumale’s time and new lighting will be installed. Finally, the display will be reconfigured to allow a better understanding and appreciation of the art of portraiture during the Renaissance.
The first group of portraits to be restored were those from the Poncins-Biencourt collection in view of their exhibition at the Château d’Azay-le-Rideau from May 19 to September 19. Learn more about their restoration in this virtual visit! (please note this video is only available in French)
Come back next week to explore the Caroline Room!
Credits: current view of the Clouet Room © Friends of the Domaine de Chantilly; Clouet Room at the beginning of the 20th century © Réunion des musées nationaux-Grand Palais (domaine de Chantilly); François Clouet, Henri II as a Child and Elisabeth of Austria © RMN-Grand Palais (domaine de Chantilly) / René-Gabriel Ojeda; François Clouet, Anne de Montmorency © RMN-Grand Palais (domaine de Chantilly) / Michel Urtado; La vie au domaine – Episode 13 © Château de Chantilly; Le Cabinet des Clouet video © Gaspard Gosset – GGProduction.
Episode 2 – Caroline Room
This stunning room was named after Marie-Caroline de Bourbon-Siciles, Princess of Salerno and Duchess d’Aumale after her marriage to Henri d’Orléans on November 25, 1844 (the story of how the couple met will be told in the Cabinet of Antiquities!). A lovely portrait of the Duchess by Eugène Lami, who also decorated her private apartments, sits above the doorway.
The pictures on the entrance side wall and the left side wall have not changed since the Duke d’Aumale’s death in 1897. However, several paintings on the right side wall and the window side were rearranged especially in 1939 when a large group of Clouet portraits were donated by the Vicomtesse de Poncins-Biencourt and was placed in the Clouet Room. At that time, some of the works hanging in the Clouet Room were moved to the Caroline Room to create a more coherent display.
Most of the paintings in this gallery are 17th- and 18th-century portraits including:
- Louis XVI by Joseph Siffred Duplessis, who created several copies of the King’s official portrait to be offered as diplomatic gifts to foreign monarchs and ambassadors, and his brothers the Count of Provence (future Louis XVIII) also by Duplessis and the Count d’Artois (future Charles X) by Henri-Pierre Danloux;
- members of the Bourbon-Condé family who owned Chantilly during this period such as Princess de Bourbon-Condé (daughter of Louis XIV and Madame de Montespan, married to Prince Louis III de Bourbon-Condé) by Pierre Gobert, Prince Louis-Joseph de Bourbon-Condé by an anonymous artist and Louis Henri Joseph de Bourbon-Condé (the last Prince de Condé who left Chantilly to the Duke d’Aumale) by Danloux;
- prominent figures like Henriette of France, Queen of England (daughter of Louis XIII and wife of Charles I) by Peter Lely, the Marquise de Pompadour (mistress of Louis XV) by François Drouais and the Duchess of Chartres (the Duke d’Aumale’s grandmother) by an anonymous artist.
The Caroline Room also contains works by some of the most famous artists of the 17th and 18th century: Pierre Mignard, Nicolas de Largillière, Hyacinthe Rigaud, François de Troy, Pierre Subleyras, Charles-André Van Loo, Juste d’Egmont, Jean-Baptiste Greuze and Jean-Antoine Watteau.
Like the other rooms in the Logis, this gallery needs a through renovation: many of the paintings will be cleaned and restored, the wall hanging will be replaced with a replica of the fabric from the late 19th century, and new lighting will be installed so that the beautiful portraits carefully acquired by the Duke d’Aumale can be appreciated in the best possible way.
See you next week in the Orléans Room a.k.a. the Porcelain Gallery!
Credits: Caroline Room at the beginning of the 20th century © Réunion des musées nationaux-Grand Palais (domaine de Chantilly); Pierre Subleyras, Pope Benedict XIV and Sir Peter Lely, Henriette of France © RMN-Grand Palais (domaine de Chantilly) / René-Gabriel Ojeda; Nicolas de Largillière, Charles-Paris d’Orléans (?) © RMN-Grand Palais (domaine de Chantilly) / Thierry Ollivier; La Salle Caroline video © Gaspard Gosset – GGProduction.
Episode 3 – Orléans Room / Chantilly Porcelain Gallery
This room was named in honor of the Duke d’Aumale’s family whose portraits are prominently displayed on the walls:
- his father, Duke d’Orleans (future Louis-Philippe) Asking for Hospitality from the Monks of Petit Saint-Bernard by Horace Vernet,
- his mother, Queen Marie-Amélie by Charles-François Jalabert,
- his aunt, Adélaïde d’Orléans by Marie-Amélie Cogniet,
- his sister-in-law, Duchess of Nemours (wife of Louis d’Orléans) as Diana, Goddess of the Hunt, whose portrait was specifically commissioned from Henri Decaisne for this room,
- his other sister-in-law, Princess of Joinville (wife of François d’Orléans) by Amédée Faure,
- and of course, Henri d’Orléans, Duke d’Aumale by Léon Bonnat.
Busts of the Orléans family members were added during the 20th century and include several works by the talented Princess Marie d’Orléans.
Mixed in with 19th-century family portraits are paintings from the Duke d’Aumale’s collection, many of which he acquired from his father-in-law, the Prince of Salerno. Among them are three important pieces of 17th-century Italian painting: An Angel Showing St. Francis of Assisi the Body of Christ Removed from the Cross and The Virgin and Child with Saint Elizabeth by Alessandro Allori, and The Holy Family with a Cat by Federico Barocci and his workshop.
Antonio Moro’s The Risen Christ between Saints Peter and Paul was originally acquired by the Prince Louis de Bourbon-Condé (1621-1686), who developed a great admiration for Flemish and Dutch schools during the years he spent in the Netherlands under the Habsburgs. Though he owned or commissioned works by Rubens, Van Dyck and Teniers, the painting by Moro was considered one of the greatest masterpieces in the Prince’s collection and in fact, it was the most expensive painting he ever purchased! Fortunately for the Duke d’Aumale, he inherited it along with the Château de Chantilly from his Godfather, the last Prince de Condé.
When the Duke d’Aumale decided to convert the Count of Paris’ apartments into art galleries, he chose the Orléans Room, the largest space in the Logis wing, as his Drawings Gallery. He installed custom-made cabinets along the walls to store his drawings in beautiful red albums and to facilitate their viewing. The Duke enjoyed showing off his impressive collection and often organized legendary lunch parties on Sundays when guests would dine in the Stag Gallery, then walk the short distance to the Orléans Room to admire the Duke’s drawings.
In the 1970s, the drawings were transferred to the Theater Library, the Duke’s former personal study located in a restricted area of the Château, for conservation and security reasons. However, the Duke’s tradition of sharing his collection has not been lost! A dedicated Gallery of Prints and Drawings was created in the Petit Château in 2017 and has since hosted an annual program of exhibitions on graphics arts.
As can be expected, the Château de Chantilly houses the largest collection of Chantilly porcelain in the world which continues to grow thanks to new acquisitions and donations. The Duke d’Aumale presented his porcelains in the Gem Gallery with small, precious artworks like miniature portraits. Once his drawing collection was moved to the Theater Library, the Orléans Room became the new Porcelain Gallery as we know it today.
The Chantilly Manufactory was founded in 1730 by Prince Louis-Henri de Bourbon-Condé (1692-1740). The ambitious Prince obtained the position of Prime Minister to Louis XV but fell out of the young King’s favor only 3 years later and was exiled to Chantilly. There, he channeled his energy into redecorating the Château in the flamboyant rococo style, building the Great Stables often referred to as a palace for horses, and creating the porcelain manufactory which was one of the earliest productions in France (it later inspired the Vincennes and Sèvres manufactories). Though the Chantilly manufactory ceased operating at the end of the century, it was highly appreciated by European aristocrats and merchants, and remains to this day one of the most beautiful examples of European porcelain productions.
The Orléans Room presents hundreds of historic pieces dating from the 18th century. Some bear the coat of arms of the Princes de Condé, others of the Orléans family. Most have the Chantilly manufactory’s characteristic mark of a hunting horn in blue or red on the bottom. While the majority of this collection is composed of tableware like cups, saucers, teapots, plates, coolers, bowls and platters – after all, the Princes de Condé entertained often and lavishly at Chantilly – it also includes decorative animal figurines as well as utilitarian objects like snuff boxes. Their décors also represent different periods of the production and vary from the early Kakiemon style imitating Asian porcelain to colorful floral designs or a simple but elegant blue and white which were popular during the second half of the century.
Chantilly’s current exhibition La Fabrique de l’extravagance. Les porcelaines de Meissen et de Chantilly, on view until August 28, tells the fascinating story of the Chantilly and Meissen productions and how they dominated decorative arts during the 18th century. It is a must-see show!
The renovation program in the Orléans Room includes the restoration of the paintings, replacement of the wall hangings and the restoration of the chandelier. The Friends of the Domaine de Chantilly is delighted to sponsor this project and would like to thank all those who wish to participate in its efforts.
Don’t miss our tour of the Isabelle Room next week!