Research

Scientific collaboration with the domaine de Chantilly (2019-2022)

The Centre de recherche du château de Versailles, the musée national des châteaux de Versailles et de Trianon and the musée Condé at the domaine de Chantilly concluded a partnership in 2019 to pool their resources and means in order to develop large-scale scientific projects between two châteaux united by a fruitful common history.

The partnership aims to initially use the precious sources on the history of Versailles and life at court held in the library and archives of the musée Condé, containing many papers written by the princes of Condé. This index of sources often unknown to researchers will have the primary objective of providing a tool for more in-depth research and will also serve for the development of exhibitions, conferences and joint publications.

_The research carried out up until now has allowed for a study of the records of accounts (1675-1780 and 1773-1789), making it possible to identify - among other expenses –the costs of the transformations and improvements to the Hôtels de Condé at Versailles, (Hôtel de Condé, Hôtel de Bourbon, Hôtel du Grand Maître). There are also references to artists and craftsmen active at Versailles and occasionally at Chantilly (sculptors, rocailleurs, marble workers, gilders, painters, miniaturist painters, engravers, etc.), revealing the changing tastes of the princes of Condé, and, in parallel, those of the king. Particular attention has been paid to identifying any mention of Court life in the broadest sense, insofar as the records provide much information regarding wardrobe expenses (wigs, perfumes, lace, jewellery, etc.), subsistence, table silverware and expenses for entertainment: fireworks, musicians and actors, candles, etc.

The research was also extended to the Cabinet des titres (1660-1789) and to the Cabinet des lettres (1660-1679). The first – in addition to the title deeds of the Condé properties – holds precious inventories of the princes’ furnishings and information on the allocation of their estates, including their apartments within the Palace of Versailles. The second extends our knowledge of court life, particularly through the news that was frequently sent to the Prince de Condé by his agents in Versailles and Paris. This huge collection opens up many fields of research, in particular regarding the gardens (species planted, kitchen garden, park, fountains, follies) and the menagerie, where the plans envisaged for Versailles frequently converged with those for Chantilly.
A study of the correspondence of the Princes de Condé also gives us a more accurate idea of the exuberant intellectual, artistic and scientific world of the salons and other academies during the reign of Louis XIV, and on the fringes of the Court.
Finally, the major issues of the era, which stirred up opinion and filled the news sheets, are reflected in these archives; through first hand accounts, it is sometimes possible to trace the ways in which information was disseminated at Court.

Once published online in the form of data tables, this inventory will facilitate access to sources, and fuel new research topics.

Team

  • Matilde Cassandro-Malphettes, General Secretary, Centre de recherche du château de Versailles,
  • Mathieu da Vinha, Scientific Director, Centre de recherche du château de Versailles,
  • Mathieu Deldicque, Curator for Heritage, musée Condé, domaine de Chantilly,
  • Alexandre Maral, General curator for Heritage, château de Versailles, and director, Centre de recherche du château de Versailles,
  • Wandrille Potez, Research Officer, Centre de recherche du château de Versailles.

Productions

>  Study of the following documents: registres des comptes 2AB 188 (1675-1676), 2AB189 (1677), 2AB190 (1678), 2AB191 (1679), 2 AB 192 (1680), 2 AB 281 1773-1775, 2 AB 283 (1776), 2 AB 284 (1777), 2 AB 285 (1778), 2 AB 287 (1779), 2 AB 289 (1780), 2 AB 291 (1781) ; Cabinet des titres 1-A-51, 1-AC-16, 2-A-004, 2-AC-008, 2-A-004, 2-A-008, 2-A-040, 2-A-044, 2-A-055, 2-A-068 ; Cabinet des lettres Série I, Volumes V, IX, Série O, Volumes I à X, Série P, Volumes XXIII à LXX, Série T, Volumes VI, VII, Série U, Volumes I à III.

>  Progress report on the inventory: creation of two tables bringing together data collected from the fonds Condé: the first relating to the record of accounts (161 entries) and the second relating to the volumes of correspondence (625 entries).

>  Inventory and photographs of hitherto unseen plans (unlisted) of the Hôtels de Condé at Versailles, Paris and Saint-Germain-en-Laye, with a view to publishing them online and to make them available to researchers.

Productions planned

>  Publication of a current status of research in the Bulletin du Centre de recherche du château de Versailles with online data tables (end of March 2021).

>  Study day “Vatel à Chantilly” (24 April 2021, Chantilly).

>  Uploading of digitised documents (on the Centre de recherche du château de Versailles website): hitherto unseen plans (unlisted) of the Hôtels de Condé at Versailles, Paris and Saint-Germain-en-Laye (already indexed and photographed) and post-death inventories of the Princes de Condé.

>  Source directory under the heading “Corpus raisonné” on the website of the Centre de recherche du château de Versailles.

>  Exhibition of the menagerie of the Princes de Condé (Autumn 2021, Cabinet des livres from Chantilly) accompanied by a publication by Florent Picouleau, librarian at the musée Condé. The event will complement the exhibition planned to take place at same time at the Palace of Versailles.

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