The Château de Chantilly sits at the confluence of the Oise and Seine Rivers in northern France and is a magnificent stone complex surrounded by manicured lawns, farms, ponds, and stables. In 1560, architect Jean Bullant designed the 20-thousand-acre estate for a member of François I’s court, high constable Anne de Montmorency. A 270-acre portion of the grounds was planned by André Le Nôtre, the landscape artist for Versailles. The Condé family, cousins of Louis XV and Louis XVI, acquired the property in the late 18th century. Sauver Le Conte’s paintings of the great Condé victories (1643–1674) remain on view in the royal apartments, the Galerie des Actions de Monsieur le Prince. During the French Revolution, the Renaissance château functioned as a prison and its artwork was relocated to the Louvre. Its main wing was destroyed in 1799 and rebuilt by the last individual owner, the Duc d’Aumale, who bequeathed it to the Institut de France in 1886. The Château de Chantilly now houses the extensive collection of the Musée Condé.
1998 and 2002 World Monuments Watch
Due to water infiltration and high humidity, 11 Le Conte paintings and a later work displayed with them were badly damaged. WMF placed that section of the château, the Galerie des Actions de Monsieur le Prince, on the 1998 Watch and supported a pilot conservation project of the paintings. By 2000, 6 others were being carefully conserved as a result of the demonstration project. At this point it became clear that the problems at Château de Chantilly were far more widespread: the hydraulic system had stopped working and the water table was rising, endangering every building on the property. WMF responded by expanding its commitment to the site. The entire estate was placed on the 2002 Watch and in subsequent years specific projects addressed varying needs at the site, including adaptive reuse plans for the vast horse stables, roof repairs in the Clinchamp wing, and the restoration of wall finishes in an ornate suite, the Grand Singerie. In addition to financial support, WMF supplied technical expertise and advice on effective treatments and conservation methods.
The Château de Chantilly is an architectural marvel and represents a grand vision for an estate of the period. The stables, adorned with statuary, were built to hold 240 horses and 300 hunting dogs as well as grooms and equipment. Chippendale woodwork appears in multiple rooms in the Clinchamp wing because the Duc d’Aumale was a great lover of British art and style. The Musée Condé possesses an incredible collection of Old Master paintings that rivals many of the greatest museum collections and an extensive manuscript library that includes Les Trés Riches Heures du Duc de Berry. Visitors to Chantilly experience a strong sense of its original ambience because the high quality of the gardens, buildings, stables, collections, and interior finishes remains intact.