Search This Blog

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

[Chateau de Chantilly] The most refined collection of a noble individual

It must be a nostalgia.
I love traveling. But, my favorite place to go is France and the spot I wish to go for one more time will always be France.
I just asked Mr. D while I was writing the above phrase, where he'd like to go. He answered, without any hesitation, that his favorite destination was France.
Well, it was an answer expected.
(Mr.D carried Remi on his back all the time. He was 16 months old)
I have been hooked on France since I was eighteen.
I stayed in Paris for that summer, exactly 61 days.
And guess what. It was not enough to see everything I needed to see.
I was mesmerized by the cultural and artistic depth of the city.
I worked through the semesters only to go back to France.
I like many differnt spots of the old continent, but France is a little bit more special to me.
I guess it is not only becuase it was the first country I wandered around by myself,
but also because it was the country where the culture and art that flew through in the air.
As a history lover, it was just natural to love France. I was interested in so many individuals who were real in the history. And a plaintive story and history stay with me longer.
In summer 2005,
we stayed a couple of days in Chantilly, about 40 km north of Paris.
And, at that famous historic Château de Chantilly, I encountered with a great individual who was an avid art collector and ardent bibliophile.
The Château was originally built in 1560s by Anne de Montmerency and was passed through the Prince de Condé who inherited the estate through his mother, a Montmorency.
 Portrait Du General Henri d'Orleans, Duc d'Aumale: 1880
The Château had been owned by the Duke of Aumale (duc d'Aumale) who was born Henri Eugène Philippe Louis d'Orléans, the fifth son of King Louis-Philippe and Marie Amalie of Bourbon-Sicilies. In other words, he was a French royal prince by birth.
In 1830, when the prince of Condé who was the last prince of Condé and the duke's godfather, the 8-year-old duke d'Aumale inherited the enormous wealth of this line, approximately £200 million today, including chateau de ​​Chantilly and immense forests in Thiérache.
However, his life was studded with preceded deaths of his sons/heirs and exiles subsequent to the revolution of 1848.
While being in his second exile in Belgium, as an art lover, a leading bibliophile of his time, a member of the French Academy, and widower with no direct descendants alive, the duke of Aumale bequeathed to the Institute of France his Chantilly estate, including the Château de Chantilly, with all the art-collection, old manuscripts and books he had collected there, to become a museum. The French government withdrew the decree of exile and the duke returned to France in 1889, only after his death in 1887. He was buried in the chapel of the Orléans in Dreux.
The Château is now owned by Institut de France which has l'Academie Française under its wings.
 The Château de Chantilly itself is stunning.
When I entered the art gallery of the Château,
I deluded for a moment that I was at cabinet du roi (royal collection) in the Louvre.
And I learned that the château's art gallery, the Musée Condé, displayed the arguably second finest collections of paintings in France,
only after the Louvre, with special strength in French paintings.
But the crème de la crème of the Château is definitely its library which is bibliothèque Condé.
In one word, the library of the Musée Condé/Château de Chantilly is "breath-taking."
As a modest book collector, I love chances of admiring a great collection of books.
BUT, the Duke d'Aumale's collection was beyond the imagination.
 The duke must have loved reading books.
But, more than that, he was a real bibliophile
who loved and searched for rare and precious books. He also was a bibliomane who has the passion for collecting books for their rarity.
Can you imagine that the library houses more than 1300 manuscripts and 12,500 printed volumes, including a Gutenberg Bible (1452-1455) and some 200 medieval manuscripts? The duke's bibliothèque boasts of extensive collection of the 15th and 16th centuries books.
I purely admire the duke's passion for the art and antiqité.
It's true that he had unlimited fund to serach for rare There are lots of wealthy people who don't care about the art.
The Duke of Aumale set a great example of "Nobless oblige".
Thanks to his generosity, I could enjoy his artistic collection, in amazement.
I still feel sorry for the duke whose life was rife with every type of turmoil...
Hope to visit his legacy again very soon...
Le duc d'Aumale et le Château de Chantilly


  1. Oh, Colleen, this post was MAGNIFIQUE! I would have married the Duke just for his library. My heart was pounding looking at the beauty of his library. Seriously!

    Oh, mi Amiga, I LOVE you for having posted this. My hubby is presently looking at it too. Please make sure you post it on BlogHer. I want to go and leave a comment there too.

    This has been a most enjoyable post. Thank you!

    Big virtual hugs,

    1. Hi Virginia,
      I'm glad you liked the post! Thank you very much for the inspiration! You gave me the idea.
      I wrote the same post in BlogHer too. :D
      As a book collector, you should definitely go and see the Duke's collection in person. You will love it! He was the most avid bibliophile I got to know.

      With my huge virtual hugs back, I wish you a wondeful Tuesday evening!

  2. I agree, I must add this to my growing list of things to see before I die. lol!

    And I've just got back from looking at your most recent post on butter. Excellent!!

    1. Good evening Virginia,
      share your "list of things to see before I die" with me (and all of bloghers!)
      I'm curious. Why don't you post about your list? :)

  3. Thanks for the interesting post. As a history lover who is in love with French culture and art, I enjoyed reading your post so much.

    1. Hi there,
      thanks for taking time to leave comments.
      I'm glad you likedthe post. :)
      I promise I'll post more about history and travel~