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The Château d'Écouen is an historic château in the commune of Écouen, some 20 km north of Paris, France, and a notable example of French Renaissance architecture. Since 1975 it contains the collections of the Musée national de la Renaissance (National Museum of the Renaissance). [1]

Château d'Écouen
Ecouen Chateau 01.jpg
General information
TypeChâteau
Architectural styleRenaissance
Town or cityÉcouen
CountryFrance
Design and construction
ArchitectJean Bullant (courtyard and north porticos)

The château was built between 1539 and 1555 for Anne de Montmorency, the Connétable de France or Grand Constable, chief minister and commander of the French army of King Francois I, and then for Henri II. It contains important collections of painting, sculpture, ceramics, stained glass, furniture, textiles and other arts of the French Renaissance. [2]

Contents

History of the ChâteauEdit

A fortress is recorded as having existed on this hilltop site since the 12th century. The fortress guarded the Plain of France, the historic invasion route into France from the north. The fortress was inherited in 1515 by Anne de Montmorency, a nobleman, senior minister and childhood companion of King Louis I. [3] In 1538 the King named Montmoerency Constable of France, commander of the armed forces, and the grand master of the household of the King. Montmorency decided to entirely reconstruct the castle to make it suitable for receiving the King in grand style. [4]

The Château was laid out following the plan of the royal Château of Chambord in the Loire Valley. [5] It was set on a terrace overlooking the countryside below, and surrounded by a false moat with a fortified wall surrounded with bastions, probably symbolizing the Constable's role as commander of the army. The chateau was in the form form of a rectangle around a central courtyard, with square pavilions on the corners. It was composed of two three-story residential wings, connected by a one-story entrance wing, and a wing of galleries connecting the two residential wings. Both of the residential wings had monumental stairways in the center to reach the suites on the upper floors. [6]

The residence of the Constable and his wife, Madeleine of Savoy was in the south wing, which contained their private chapel and apartments. The north wing was entirely devoted to royal visitors; it contained the suite of the Queen on the first floor and the suite of the King on the floor above. An additional floor under the roof of the three main wings, lit with with light from rows of lucarnes or dormer windows. [7]

The records of the construction have been lost, so the name of the architect of the building is uncertain, but it is known that the royal architect Jean Bullant participated in the later decoration of the Château, particularly in the construction of ornate peristyles facing the courtyard and the north facade of the building facing the garden. He later designed the Grand Constable's tomb, [8] His use of the colossal order of classical columns on the portico of the courtyard is an early example of one of the distinguishing features of French Renaissance architecture. [9]

Anne de Montmorency invited some of the most prominent French artists of the Renaissance to participate in the sculpture and decoration. His chapel was decorated with sculptures by Jean Goujon, and Jean Bullant, Barthélemy Prieur, and Bernard Palissy. Some of the Androuet du Cerceau family found protection and work at Écouen.[10] Much of the glass from Écouen is now at the Musée Condé,[11] and the east wing was paved in 1549-50. The building was frescoed and furnished during the 1550s, in the style of the School of Fontainebleau.No building accounts survive, so the precise sequence of the construction cannot be closely followed;[12] However, panels of grisaille stained glass in the gallery of the west wing are dated 1542 and 1544, Écouen was illustrated in engravings in Jacques Androuet du Cerceau's Les Plus excellents bastiments de France, 1576.

The Chateau remained in the Montmorency family until 1632, then became the property of the Bourbon-Condé branch of the royal family. In 1787, shortly before the French Revolution. the original east entrance portal, topped by an equestrian statue of Montmorency, was demolished by the new owner, the Louis Joseph de Bourbon, prince de Condé. When he emigrated during the Revolution, the Château of Écouen became the property of the French state. In 1806 Napoleon Bonaparte granted to the chateau to the Legion d'Honneur and it became a school for the daughters of the chevaliers of the order until 1962. [13] In 1969 the Minister of Culture, André Malraux, proposed that the Château be become the home of the collection of Renaissance art of the Cluny Museum. It opened in 1977 as the French National Museum of Renaissance. [14]

The entrance wing and the courtyardEdit

The present neoclassical entrances wing is a late addition, constructed after the new owner, Louis Joseph, Prince of Condé, decided in 1787 to demolish the original gateway, surmounted with a statue of Montmorency, in order to have a better view of the garden. The new neoclassical entrance wing was completed in 1807 by the architect Marie-Joseph Peyre, whose best-known work was the Odéon-Théâtre de l'Europe in Paris, co-designed with Charles De Wally. [15]

The central courtyard saw major additions during the reign of Henry II of France. These included two new peristyles on the interior of the north and south wings, by Jean Bullant, installed to rebalance the facades after the enlargement of the stairway to the royal apartment in the north wing. These new peristyles were early examples of French Renaissance architecture, influenced by the Italian work of Bramante, and decorated with classical orders of columns and niches for statuary. The entrance to the stairway to the King's apartments was originally flanked by two statues of Michelangelo, The Slaves, which were gifts to Montmorency from Henry II. The originals are now in the Louvre Museum. The entrance to the apartments of the King and Queen is decorated with the crescent emblem of Henry II and the rainbow emblem of Catherine de Medicis.[16]

Bullant is also credited with the designing the central peristyle on the exterior of the North Wing, which covers the loggias of the monumental stairway. It has a classical pediment, large windows, orders of columns, and horizontal bands of sculptural decoration. [17]

Interior decorationEdit

Much of the original decoration has disappeared, but some striking examples remain in the state rooms on the first floor, particularly the cabinet of the apartments of the King in the north wing and the library of the Constable, located over the chapel. These decorations include painted fireplaces which date to the reign of Henri II, and which feature Biblical or historic scenes surrounded by mythical characters and animals, and cascades of fruit and vegetables. Notable examples are the fireplace in the Hall of Arms, illustrating the story of Solomon and Sheba, and the chimney of the Salle des cuirs des Héroes romaines, which illustrates the Tribute to Caesar. Other walls have frescoes of polychrome designs based on the coats of arms of the Constable. These heraldic designs, in color, highlight the more sober grisaille patterns of the stained glass windows, which are also from the reign of Henri II.[18]

Some of the state rooms have sections of their original tile floors, made of polychrome faience tiles by Masséot Abaquesne. Some rooms, particularly the cabinet of the rooms of the King and the library, over the chapel, also have some of their original carved wood panelling, featuring the emblem of Montmorency intertwined with Moorish and arabesque designs.[19]

The Constable's apartments and ChapelEdit

The chapel, on the ground floor of the south wing, was stripped of its furnishings during the French Revolution. The original stained glass windows and wood paneling are now found in the Chateau of Chantilly. The chapel retains the ceiling of arched rib vaults decorated with the painted coats-of-arms of Montmorency and his wife, Madeleine of Savoy. The chapel features a very early copy of the Last Supper by [[Leonardo Da Vinci, painted in Milan between 1506 and 1509 by Marco d'Oggiono, a pupil of DaVinci. It hung in the chapel during the time of Montmorency. [20]

Apartments of the King and QueenEdit

Traces of the original decoration are found in the apartments of the King and Queen. The King's bedchamber still has some of the original painted monograms of Henry II, a crescent moon, on the ceiling. The painted fireplace in his bedchamber has a painting of a biblical scene, beneath his coat of arms held by two cherubs. His bedchamber also has two tapestries of the series called "David and Bathsheba".

Collections of the Museum of the RenaissanceEdit

The collections of the museum have a history of their own, separate from the Château. The first collections were originally acquired by the French state in 1843 from Alexandre Du Sommerard (1779-1842), Counselor and Master of the Cour-des Comptes, who assembled a very large collection of art objects from Antiquity until the French Renaissance. After his death, these became the heart of the collection of the new Cluny Museum in Paris. Numerous other objects were donated or purchased under the new curator of the museum, Edmond Du Sommerard, son of Alexandre. were added, until the collection was much too large to adequately display. [21]

The Cluny Museum re-opened after the German occupation in World War II, and a long debate, from 1948 to 1956, began on where to put the Renaissance Art. This was not settled until 1969, when the Culture Minister André Malraux proposed opening the new museum in the Château d'Écouen, The Chateau, which had long been stripped of almost all art, was renovated by architects of the Monuments Historiques, [22] [23]

The new collection was chosen from among the objects of the Cluny collection based on chronology and style. The Ecouen museum received Italian Renaissance works created after 1400 and other works after 1500. The new museum also received two important works from the Louvre Museum, The Last Supper by Marco d'Oggiono and the Retable of the Passion by Pierre Raymond. The first galleries of the new museum opened in October 1977. A number of rooms have been furnished with objects suitable for different historical figures from the history of the chateau in the period. A series of small, focussed exhibitions have been staged at Écouen over the years since the museum fully opened in 1982.[24]

Stained glassEdit

Most of the original stained glass of the Château was removed in the 18th and 19th century (some is now in the Château of Chantilly), but the museum displays some remarkable glass from other sites. Many of the windows feature emblems of the King or Constable or other personalities in colored glass, in the middle of windows which are largely clear or in muted colors. Other windows use a full range of rich colors.

Among the notable works in the collection is a portrait of King Francis I of France in prayer, by Nicolas Beaurain, made in about 1551-56. It was commissioned by Henry II of France in 1549 to decorate Sainte-Chapelle de Vincennes for the ceremonies of the Order of Saint-Michel, an order founded by Henry II. Most of the stained glass windows of the chapel were destroyed during the French Revolution, but this portion survived. It is notable especially for fine detail and shading of the colors, especially in the figure and costume of the King.

Another notable work in the collection is a stained glass depiction of scene from life of Saint Paul, showing Saint Paul chased from the Temple in Jerusalem. It is one of two scenes by Louis Pinaigrier and Nicolas Charnus (first third of the 17th century). It was formerly in Church of Saint-Paul in Paris, which was destroyed in 1797, not long after the French Revolution. [25]

TapestriesEdit

The collection of tapestries includes ten tapestries of the series David and Bathsheba made in Brussels in 1520-25, after designs by Jan Van Roome. Together they measure seventy-five meters in length. They depict the Biblical story, but the costumes and settings are of the 16th century, and the tapestries give a detailed view of court life in the 16th century. The original patron is not known, but it was purchased by by Henry VIII of England in 1528.

Other notable tapestries include the Fructus Belli tapestry, from the workshop of Jehan Baudouin in Brussels, after a design by Giulio Romano, The fruits of war. It was commissioned in 1544 by Ferrante Gonzaga, the Duke of Mantua and chief of the armies of the Emperor Charles V of Austria. and depicts solders being paid. It shows the growing influence of Italian art on Flemish tapestries.

Italian tapestries are also represented, including "The life of a man" by Benedetto Squilli of Florence, after a painting by Jan Van der Straet. It was originally made for the Medici family for the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, as part of cycle conceived by Georgio Vasari. [26]

PaintingsEdit

The collection of paintings includes work by Toussaint Dubreuil (c. 1561—22 November 1602) a French Mannerist painter associated (from 1594) with the second School of Fontainebleau (together with the artists Martin Fréminet and Ambroise Dubois) and Italianism, a transitional art style. Many of Dubreuil's subjects include mythological scenes and scenes from works of fiction by such writers as the Italian Torquato Tasso, the ancient Greek novelist Heliodorus of Emesa and French poet Pierre de Ronsard.

One of the most notable paintings is the Voyage of Ulysses by the Italian Guidoccio Cozzarelli of Sienna, from about 1480. Painted on a wood panel, it was originally attached to a large chest, and was intended to be placed in the bedroom of newlyweds, to remind the bride about the virtue of faithfulness. The painting, based on the Odyssey of Homer, depicts the wife of Ulysses, Penelope, faithful waiting for her husband's return from his twenty years of voyages.[27]

Jewelry, goldsmithing and silversmithingEdit

The museum displays works of some of the most celebrated goldsmiths and silversmiths of the Renaissance. One notable example is the statuette of Daphne by Wenzel Jamnitzer, a German craftsman from Nuremberg, and the goldsmith to the Holy Roman emperors. It was made between 1569 and 1576. It depicts the Greek mythological story of Apollo and Daphne from the Metamorphoses of Ovid, which was a popular subject in the Renaissance. The nymph Daphne is transformed into a laurel tree by her father, to protect her from the pursuit of Apollo. The statuette is made of gilded silver, with branches made of red coral with touches of silver paint. [28]

Arms and armorEdit

The Museum has an exceptional collection of arms and armor, including the gilded ceremonial spurs of Francis I of France, decorated with his emblem, the salamander. These spurs, made in 1515-1525, were made in the first decade of his reign, and were displayed at his funeral in 1547. Another piece in the collection is a dosseret with a high collar, decorated with images of the Minevra and Mars, the deities of war. It was designed to protect the back of the neck, and could be worn either with a suit of armor or as a collar with formal court dress. [29]

Scientific instruments, clocks and mechanical devicesEdit

The museum houses one of the most important European collections of Renaissance scientific instruments, including examples of the astrolabe. clocks, globes, the solar cadran, and automatons. One of the most famous items is the mechanical model ship, called the Nef of Charles V, made in about 1590 and attributed to Hans Schlottheim, which originally was in the cabinet of curiosities of the Elector of Saxe in Dresden. It contains a clock which activates seven different mechanisms, which sound the quarter hour, and set the mechanical figures in motion; the tiny trumpeters and drummers play, the electors of the Holy Roman Empire promenade in a circle around the Emperor on his throne on the stern of the ship; and the tiny cannons fire. The display includes a video that shows all of mechanisms functioning. [30]

Other objects in the collection include a astrolobic clock attributed to Jean Naze, a clock maker from Lyon, which indicates the time, the course of the sun, the phases of the moon and the positions of the stars. Other objects include a cone-shaped cup which functions as a sundial, and an enigmatic mechanical device with rows of small turning wheels, placed inside what appeared to be a book. It bears the emblems and symbols of Henry II of France, and is thought to have been an early coding device. It was made about 1547-1559. [31]


GalleryEdit

GalleryEdit

NotesEdit

  1. ^ Centre des Monuments Nationaux, Le Guide du Patrimoine en France ouverts au public, pg. 333
  2. ^ Centre des Monuments Nationaux, Le Guide du Patrimoine en France ouverts au public, pg. 333
  3. ^ Le Guide du Patrimoine en France, pg. 333
  4. ^ Musée National de la Renaissance, Château d'Écouen, Guide des collections, Éditions de la Réunion des musées nationaux, (2017), p. 333
  5. ^ Musée National de la Renaissance, Château d'Écouen, Guide des collections, Éditions de la Réunion des musées nationaux, (2017), p. 10
  6. ^ Musée National de la Renaissance, Château d'Écouen, Guide des collections, Éditions de la Réunion des musées nationaux, (2017), p.10-18
  7. ^ Musée National de la Renaissance, Château d'Écouen, Guide des collections, Éditions de la Réunion des musées nationaux, (2017), p. 333
  8. ^ Musée National de la Renaissance, Château d'Écouen, Guide des collections, Éditions de la Réunion des musées nationaux, (2017), p. 333
  9. ^ Rosalys Coope, "The Château of Montceaux-en-Brie", Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 22.1/2 (January - June 1959:71-87) p. 77.
  10. ^ Janet S. Byrne, "Monuments on Paper" The Metropolitan Museum of Art BulletinNew Series, 25.1 (Summer 1966, pp. 24-29) p 28.
  11. ^ Chantilly. Michael Archer, "'Monmorency's Sword' from Écouen" The Burlington Magazine 129 No. 1010 (May 1987, pp. 298-303) p 301.
  12. ^ A. Bertrand, Un château à Écouen (1974); John Cornforth, "Château d'Écouen, Seine et Oise" Country Life Magazine 12 July 1984, pp 164-67.
  13. ^ Visitors's Guide to the Museum of the Renaissance
  14. ^ Visitors's Guide to the Museum of the Renaissance
  15. ^ Musée National de la Renaissance, Château d'Écouen, Guide des collections, Éditions de la Réunion des musées nationaux, (2017), p.10-13
  16. ^ Visitor's guide to the National Museum of the Renaissance, pg. 2
  17. ^ Musée National de la Renaissance, Château d'Écouen, Guide des collections, Éditions de la Réunion des musées nationaux, (2017), p.10-13
  18. ^ Musée National de la Renaissance, Château d'Écouen, Guide des collections, Éditions de la Réunion des musées nationaux, (2017), p.14-15
  19. ^ Musée National de la Renaissance, Château d'Écouen, Guide des collections, Éditions de la Réunion des musées nationaux, (2017), p.14-15
  20. ^ Visitor's Guide to the Musée de la Renaissance, pg. 2
  21. ^ Musée National de la Renaissance, Château d'Écouen, Guide des collections, Éditions de la Réunion des musées nationaux, (2017), p. 8-9
  22. ^ Rebecca Rogers, Les demoiselles de la Légion d'honneur: Les maisons d'éducation de la Légion d'honneur au XIX siècle (Paris: Plon) 1992.
  23. ^ Musée National de la Renaissance, Château d'Écouen, Guide des collections, Éditions de la Réunion des musées nationaux, (2017), p. 8-9
  24. ^ Musée National de la Renaissance, Château d'Écouen, Guide des collections, Éditions de la Réunion des musées nationaux, (2017), p. 8-9
  25. ^ Musée National de la Renaissance, Château d'Écouen, Guide des collections, Éditions de la Réunion des musées nationaux, (2017), p. 65
  26. ^ Musée National de la Renaissance, Château d'Écouen, Guide des collections, Éditions de la Réunion des musées nationaux, (2017), p. 36
  27. ^ Musée National de la Renaissance, Château d'Écouen, Guide des collections, Éditions de la Réunion des musées nationaux, (2017), p. 28
  28. ^ Musée National de la Renaissance, Château d'Écouen, Guide des collections, Éditions de la Réunion des musées nationaux, (2017), p. 28
  29. ^ Musée National de la Renaissance, Château d'Écouen, Guide des collections, Éditions de la Réunion des musées nationaux, (2017), p. 134
  30. ^ Musée National de la Renaissance, Château d'Écouen, Guide des collections, Éditions de la Réunion des musées nationaux, (2017), p. 118
  31. ^ Musée National de la Renaissance, Château d'Écouen, Guide des collections, Éditions de la Réunion des musées nationaux, (2017), p. 117

BibliographyEdit

  • Musée National de la Renaissance, Château d'Écouen, Guide des collections, Éditions de la Réunion des musées nationaux, (2017), (in French), ISBN 978-2-7118-6422-5
  • Le Guide du Patrimoine en France: Monuments Historiques, Éditions du Patrimoine, Centre des Monuments Nationaux, Paris (2002), (in French), ISBN 978-2-85822-760-0

External linksEdit