Sunday, 19 October 2014

Hamlet, Chantilly

In 1775, Louis Joseph de Bourbon, Prince of Conde engaged his architect, Jean-Francois Leroy, to create a model village in the park at Chantilly. From its outward appearance, the hamlet resembled a peasants' settlement; however, the interiors were luxuriously furnished, for the private use of the Conde family, the Prince's daughter, Mademoiselle de Conte dressed up as a farmer's wife, or when entertaining friends. Every cottage had its own specific use; as a drawing room, a billiard room, and a dining room. The drawing room was lined with luxurious pink silk. The interior of the dining room was decorated with a trompe-l'oeil depiction of vegetation.

The Dining Room

The Drawing Room

Louis Joseph de Bourbon, Prince of Conde (1736-1818)

During the course of the 18th century many important guests were to be entertained at the Hamlet; Marie Antoinette's brother, Emperor Joseph II of Austria, Louis XV's daughters, the Mesdames Tantes, Adelaide, Victoire and Sophie; and also the Compt du Nord, the future Emperor Paul I of Russia and his wife, who according to the record were to eat supper there. According to the  account of Baroness d'Oberkirch:  "Supper was served in the Hamlet, a picturesque collection of rural dwellings amidst English style gardens. The biggest cottage is covered with green foliage inside, and outside is surrounded by all the tools needed by a master ploughman. It is inside his cottage, comprising a single oval room, that we had supper around a dozen small tables seating ten or twelve each. It was convenient, cheerful, without fuss and perfectly well devised."


Overdoor depicting the Hamlet in the private apartments of the Duke d'Aumal, Chantilly

The Hamlet at Chantilly inspired  Marie Antoinette to build her own hamlet at Versailles. Unlike the Queen, the Prince of Conde managed to flee France at the Revolution and in doing so undoubtedly saved his neck.