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The front entrance and courtyard at the Château de Chantilly
The chapel of the Hearts of the Princes of Condé
The side garden and fountains at the Château de Chantilly
The north façade
The hall of honour
The Château de Chantilly is a historic château located in the town of Chantillymarker, Francemarker. 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. Owned by the Institut de Francemarker, the château houses the Musée Condé which is one of the finest art galleries in 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 1600s. 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 1853-1872, 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 has 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.

Musée Condé

The château's art gallery, the Musée Condé, houses one of the finest collections of paintings in France (after the Louvremarker), 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.

Image:Le Tre Grazie.png|Three Graces, Raphael (1504-1505)Image:Watteau L'Amour désarmé Musée Condé.jpg|L'Amour désarmé, Antoine Watteau (around 1715)Image:Nicolas Poussin 005.jpg|Le Massacre des Innocents, Nicolas Poussin (around 1628-1629)Image:Ingres, Self-portrait.jpg|Self-portrait, Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres (1804)File:Margot 001.jpg|Portrait of Marguerite de France, François Clouet, (around 1560)Image:Enguerrand Charonton 002.jpg|Vierge de miséricorde, Enguerrand QuartonImage:Piero di Cosimo 043.jpg|Portrait of Simonetta Vespucci, Piero di CosimoImage:Mazarin-mignard.jpg|Portrait of Cardinal Mazarin, Pierre Mignard

Park and Chantilly rarecourse

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 reinemarker of Marie Antoinette in the Gardens of Versaillesmarker.

The estate overlooks the Chantilly Racecoursemarker and the Grandes Écuries (Great Stables) which contains the Living Museum of the Horsemarker. 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. photo


The library
Responding to an appeal to support restoration of the château, The Aga Khan donated €40m, accounting for more than half of a €70m needed by the Institut de France to complete the project . The World Monuments Fund recently completed the restoration of the Grande Singerie, a salon with paintings on the walls of monkeys engaged in human activities, once a fashionable salon motif, but with few examples surviving today.



  1. Article detailing donation, Guardian, 3 May 2005, Web copy
  2. Article detailing restoration, New York Times, 30 May 2008, Web copy

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