As part of the SMU-in-Paris program, we not only get to go on two study tours, but we have several day trips in the Paris vicinity over the semester. While we were originally scheduled to visit the town of Reims, where the French kings were coronnated, there was unfortunately a problem with the train, so we visited Chantilly by bus instead.
In French the word “chantilly” actually means “whipped cream,” gaining its name from the region in which it was created, Chantilly. The castle is a blend of flamboyant gothic architecture and high Renaissance architecture, with large, pointed arches, intricate details on the facade, and several domes over the various rooms of the castle. Unlike some of the other chateaux I’ve seen, this was not a royal chateaux, instead it was a hunting lodge used by the Conde family.
Art History in action
While the chateaux has beautiful architecture and gorgeous Renaissance decor, Chantilly is best known for its immense art collection. In the Conde gallery, there are pieces by Raphael, Philippe de Champiagne, Corot, Corbet, and Regnault. There is also a room dedicated to small portraits of royals and nobles. Since I am quite interested in the Ancien Regime, I, of course, took my time looking at the portraits of Henri II, Catherine de Medici, Henri III, Charles IX, and Marie de Medici, just to name a few.
Since our Art History midterm was the following Monday, my friends and I were jokingly “analyzing” the paintings hanging on the wall, however, I have to admit even though it was in jest, it did help to do that, as dorky as it sounds.
I was a tad bit disappointed that we didn’t get to see Reims because I am enrolled in a history class entitled “Images of Power,” and Reims would have been a wonderful example of a presentation of royal power, but Chantilly was a good second option.
Now I really have to buckle down, memorize my paintings for Art History, and study my French grammar for my midterms next week!