Although its lavish exterior may be 19th-century Renaissance pastiche, the Château de Chantilly, sitting snugly behind an artificial lake, houses the outstanding Musée Condé, with illuminated medieval manuscripts, tapestries, furniture, and paintings. The most famous room, the Santuario (sanctuary), contains two celebrated works by Italian painter Raphael (1483–1520)—the Three Graces and the Orleans Virgin—plus an exquisite ensemble
of 15th-century miniatures by the most illustrious French painter of his time, Jean Fouquet (1420–81). Farther on, in the Cabinet des Livres (library), is the world-famous Book of Hours whose title translates as The Very Rich Hours of the Duc de Berry. It was illuminated by the Brothers Limbourg with magical pictures of early-15th-century life as lived by one of Burgundy's richest lords; unfortunately, due to their fragility, painted facsimiles of the celebrated calendar illuminations are on display, not the actual pages of the book. Other highlights of this unusual museum are the Galerie de Psyché (Psyche Gallery), with 16th-century stained glass and portrait drawings by Flemish artist Jean Clouet II; the Chapelle, with sculptures by Jean Goujon and Jacques Sarrazin; and the extensive collection of paintings by 19th-century French artists, headed by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres. In addition, there are grand and smaller salons, all stuffed with palace furniture, family portraits, and Sèvres porcelains, making this a must for lovers of the decorative and applied arts.
Chantilly, 60631, France