Chantilly : Restorations, Exhibitions and Other Events at the Musée Condé

1. A view of the Cabinet d’angle recently restored
Chantilly, Musée Condé
Photo : Martine Savart

9/4/14 - Restorations, exhibition - Chantilly, Musée Condé - The various restorations continue at the Château de Chantilly, notably in the Grands Appartements, on the first floor of the château [1], partly installed in the early 18th century by Jean Aubert for Louis-Henri, Duke of Bourbon, Prince de Condé (1692-1740). Following the Grand Singerie in 2007 and the Salon de Musique in 2012, the Cabinet d’angle has recovered its initial splendor in 2013 with its décor in white and gilt wood paneling of Régence style ; the parquet, the plaster arch in the ceiling, the chandelier and the locks have also been restored (ill. 1). The room holds a set of furniture by Jean-Baptiste Séné as well as a bureau plat placed on deposit by Versaille and a bronze vase by Benoit Marrel, donated to the Duc of Aumale in 1847, showing a bas relief representing The Battle of the Amazons after Rubens. The dessus de porte, removed during the Revolution, were then replaced by battle scenes painted by Francesco Giuseppe Casanova and Jean-Baptiste Le Paon for the Palais Bourbon, illustrating the combats led by the Grand Condé.

2. A view of the Chambre de Monsieur le Prince
with restoration in progress
Chantilly, Musée Condé
Photo : NdA

Next to the Cabinet d’angle we find the bedroom of Monsieur le Prince, currently being restored (ill. 2) : the wood panelling produced under the supervision of Jean Aubert as well around 1720, were also covered in grime. They were removed, revealing the structure of the walls ; for example, a lintel reflects the existence of an old door leading to a smaller room which was easier to heat. The parquet, when lifted, shows work done in the 19th century. The room is heated by a vent which, ideally, should be moved since the air from it is damaging the wood panelling and the Huet paintings installed in the 19th century when the château, looted during the Revolution, was refurnished ; these five canvases were restored earlier. This room normally includes a Riesener commode produced for the bedroom of Louis XVI at Versailles, still on view for the public to enjoy during the refurbishing, but temporarily in the Salon de musique.
On the ground floor, the Petits Appartements or the private apartments of the Duke and Duchess of Aumale were arranged by Eugène Lami. We find there the Petite Singerie, restored between 2011 and 2013 (ill. 3) : the décor, here again painted by Christophe Huet for the Duchess of Bourbon, presents six scenes, four of which evoke the seasons, another depicts a card game and the last one a female monkey at her toilette ; the ceiling is decorated with La Fontaine’s fables and the corners repeat the theme of the four seasons. The wood panelling has been removed and former restorations were found, notably color outlining in certain scenes which had to be eliminated while the regilding was produced in 19th. The ceiling - originally oil paint on plaster transferred onto canvas - had undergone repainting in areas and the ensemble had to be unified.

3. A view of the Petite Singerie recently restored
Chantilly, Musée Condé
Photo : Musée Condé

4. A view of the Santuario recently restored
Chantilly, Musée Condé
Photo : M.Savart

The highlight of the collection belonging to the Duke of Aumale is of course in the Santuario (ill. 4). This small hexagonal room, formerly the Cabinet des estampes, presents two of the three Raphaels [2] - The Three Graces and The Virgin of the Maison d’Orléans - against a blue backdrop and with overhead lighting ; they hang next to a panel by Filippino Lippi, Esther and Ahasuerus, as well as forty illuminations painted by Jean Fouquet, taken from the Book of hours by Etienne Chevalier.
This room was restored between 2012 and 2013. The original color of the velvet decorating the walls has been selected once more. The humidity is now controlled and the natural overhead lighting maintained but now filtered through insulated glass.
The restoration campaign continues in 2014 and will deal with a particularly important area : the Grande Galerie de Peintures. The two million euro budget includes dusting off the painted canvas on the walls, restoring the glass ceiling and installing a new lighting system in order to improve visibility of the works ; the refurbishing also includes adjusting the temperature of the room. The restoration of the paintings and the frames, for an overall budget of 400,000 euros, will be done in stages so as to leave the gallery open for visitors. This new restoration campaign will be funded equally by the State and His Highness the Prince Aga Khan.

5. Grand Croix de la Légion d’Honneur
with the profile of Henri IV.
On the back, the inscription :
« Honneur et Patrie »
The cross is topped with
a crown of gold decorated with fleurs de lys.
Unique model of the Monarchie de Juillet :
from 13 to 26 August 1830
Gold, enamel - 10.7 x 7.2 cm
Chantilly, Musée Condé
Photo : RMNGP / Michel Urtado

6. Communiqué officiel. Algiers, 2 March 1848.
Handwritten manuscript in-4 signed H d’Orléans :
Letterhead of the « Gouvernement général de l’Algérie. Cabinet »
Communiqué in which the Duke of Aumale,
then Gouverneur général of Algéria, transmits the announcement
of the formation of a
republican government
in Paris.
Chantilly, Musée Condé
Photo : Pierre Bergé et associés

In concluding, we would like to point out that two exhibitons are currently being held. One, "D’or et d’argent", organized in collaboration with the Musée de la Légion d’Honneur, is accompanied by a catalogue ; it presents the decorations of the various Princes de Condé and of the Duke of Aumale with almost seventy objects, most of which come from the collections at Chantilly. These decorations, along with painted and sculpted portraits, recount the lives of the last owners of Chantilly : the Princes of Bourbon-Condé, Louis-Joseph (1736-1818), Louis-Henri-Joseph (1756-1830), Louis Antoine-Henri, Duke of Enghien (1772-1804) and Henri d’Orléans, Duke of Aumale (1822-1897).
Military, religious and hospital orders, an order of knights of a dynastic and governmental character...The context of their creation and the changes in their iconography also evoke the course of history. Visitors will discover the order of the Saint Esprit, reserved for higher nobility, while the order of Saint Louis is a military reward, the order of Saint Andrew of Russia and that of Malta, the Golden Fleece of course. The Musée Condé also holds two rare examples of the Croix de la Légion d’Honneur : the first model under the Monarchie de Juillet (ill. 5). The Duke of Aumale was made a member of many foreign orders, including one of the very first Colonial medals with the mention "Algérie", in memory of the years spent in Northern Africa.
The second exhibition, "Aumale secret", is presented in the château’s library and includes about thirty documents, letters, books and manuscripts, such as the official communiqué of 2 March 1848 - purchased at the Villepin auction of 29 Novembre 2013 - handwritten by the Duke of Aumale, at the time Gouverneur général of Algeria, in which he transmits the announcement declaring the creation of a republican government in Paris (ill. 6). This event marked the end of the Monarchie de Juillet. During his exile in England, he kept up a correspondence with Laplagne-Barris, a close confidant, commenting on public and private matters. This ensemble, in the hands of the same family for 150 years and made up of thousands of items, joined the collections at Chantilly in 2013 as well. Finally, his correspondence with Count Gustave de Reiset reveals the Duke’s more private aspect. Looking further along this year, this coming autumn will see an Italian theme at the Musée Condé with the exhibition "Fra Angelico, Botticelli, chefs d’oeuvre retrouvés"[masterpieces recovered], reconstituting Italian polyptychs scattered all over the world, from 6 September 2014 to 4 January 2015.

"Aumale secret, archives inédites du château de Chantilly", from 6 April to 29 June 2014, Château de Chantilly, Cabinet des Livres. Curator : Olivier Bosc

"D’or et d’argent. Décorations des princes de Condé et du duc d’Aumale", from 6 April to 29 September 2014, Château de Chantilly, Musée Condé, Galerie de Psyché. Curators : Nicole Garnier and Patrick Spilliaert.

Nicole Garnier-Pelle, Patrick Spilliaert, Astrid Grange, D’Or et d’argent. Décorations des princes de Condé et du duc d’Aumale, Monelle Hayo and Société des amis du musée de la Légion d’Honneur, 2014, 120 p., 25€. ISBN : 978-2-903824-89-1

Visitor information : Château de Chantilly, 60500 Chantilly. Tel : +33 (0)3 44 27 31 80. Open every day from 29 March to 2 November, from 10 am to 6 pm. Admission : 20€ (reduced : 10€).

Version française

Bénédicte Bonnet Saint-Georges, mercredi 9 avril 2014


[1] Petit Château, built around 1560 for the Connétable Anne de Montmorency by the architect, Jean Bullant.

[2] The third one, The Virgin of Loretto, has been considered a copy for quite some time now.

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