HISTORY OF THE CHÂTEAU.

 

HISTORY 0F THE CHATEAU

THE MARECHAL LOUIS-JOSEPH DE VENDOME .

THE MANOR OF BREZE .

THE FESTIVITIES AT ANET DURING VENDOME OCCUPANCY .

DIANE DE POITIERS .

THE DUCHESSE DU MAINE .

THE ROYAL MISTRESS .

THE SONS OF THE DUCHESSE DU MAINE .

THE CONSTRUCTION OF ANET .

THE DUC DE PENTHIEVRE .

INSIDE THE CHATEAU .

DEVASTATION .

DIANE'S LAST YEARS .

RESTAURATION .

LOUISE DE BREZE, DUCHESSE D' AUMALE AND HER SON .

MONSIEUR FERDINAND MOREAU .

CESAR DE VENDOME .

ANET - THE LAST HUNDRED YEARS .

To the visitor Anet comes as a surprise followed by delight and a sense of wonder. The reason for this is not only through the power of its beauty , but also through its disregard for self advertisement. It does not proclaim itself. Rather, it is something to be discovered.
Anet was not merely a rendezvous of the hunt, nor one of intermittent occupancy. It was a princely dwelling, embodying all the reserve, the intimacy and mystery of an amorous retreat. To one who has mused over its quiet loveliness, "it is not so much the splendor of its decorations, so characteristic of Diane de Poitiers for whom it was built, as its architectural dispositions which carry a certain feminine
ambiance. This is true throughout the history of the château : during the changes of ownership it was more often than not in the hands of a woman.
Built at the foot of the Valley of the Eure, the château crowns the forest of the Royal Hunt, symbolized by the stag above its portal. One is impressed by the harmonious blending of the architecture with the long undulating lines of forest.
To the great Philibert de l'Orme honor is due for having adapted his design so superbly to the environment. The style, so far removed from the old Gothic, is in the classic mold, artfully infused with the French spirit. Along with certain changes in detail, this style continued throughout the following centuries. Thus, aside from the romantic associations that evolved, this inspired adaptation embodies in Anet the earliest expression of the new classical ideal, establishing it as one of the great landmarks in the history of French architecture.

HISTORY 0F THE CHATEAU

Before Diane de Poitiers undertook the building of the present château, Anet had had two previous châteaux on the site. The first, built in the 12th century , was a feudal fortress with massive walls, four towers and a large round keep. Philippe Auguste lived there at various times and went from there to the assault of Normandy, the river Eure at that point forming the frontier .
This fortress was dismantled in 1378 by order of King Charles V, following the revolt by Charles the Bad, King of Navarre, Count d'Evreux and Lord of Anet. Today there are but a few vestiges of that earlier structure : the foundations of a tower, cellars still existing behind the site of the old stables.

THE MANOR OF BREZE .

In 1444 Charles VII gave this property to his faithful counselor and chamberlain, Pierre de Brézé, along with the four " lordships " of Nogent-leRoi, Anet, Breval and Mont Chauvet as reward for his services to the kingdom in the war with England and particularly in the re-conquest of Normandy.
Jacques, grand sénéchal of Normandy, the son of Pierre de Brézé, built in 1470 in Anet a Manor of brick and stone, which stood behind the present chapel, a rather somber dwelling of large proportion, mullion and dormer windows with flamboyant decor, and with a spiral staircase in front. Nearby were the stables and kennels.
This Jacques de Brézé was married to Charlotte of France, daughter of Charles VII and Agnès Sorel and half-sister of Louis XI. The union had a tragic end : Jacques surprised his wife, in the manor de Rouvres on the grounds of Anet, in the very act of adultery with one of his huntsmen. He murdered them both with more than a hundred sword thrusts (1477).
When Louis XI learned of the death of his beloved sister, he became wild with rage, swearing vengeance. The Grand Sénéchal was arrested, held prisoner for a number of years and finally condemned to death, with the confiscation of all his goods. However the sentence was not strictly carried out : the Lord de Brézé saved his head but had to give up all his possessions to the king, who immediately handed them over to Louis de Brézé, his godchild and eldest son of Charlotte. Then, three years after his accession to the throne, Charles VIII annulled the verdict against Jacques de
Brézé and restored him to his former titles and goods.

DIANE DE POITIERS .

Jacques de Brézé died in 1490 and was succeeded by his son Louis , who became one of the foremost dignitaries of the kingdom as Comte de Maulevrier, Lord of Anet, grand sénéchal of Normandy and " Grand Huntsman " of France. He was the widower of Catherine de Dreux. At the age of 56, in 1515, he married Diane de Poitiers, forty years his junior.
Diane was born on the 31st of December 1499, in the château de Saint-Vallier (Drôme), descended from the ancient sovereign family of the Comtes de Poitiers. Her relative, Anne de Beaujeu, Duchesse de Bourbon, agreed to take charge of her education. It was she who shaped Diane's mind, developed her tastes and inculcated in her the highest principles of honor and of wisdom, of which Diane remained a living example.
Through her marriage Diane was called to the court of France where, thanks to her beauty and intelligence, she had access to the first circles. She became Lady of Honor to Queen Claude, wife of François I. Sincer her husband was not continually required at court, the couple could
spend intervals at Anet. Louis de Brézé like this rather somber dwelling
which was near the forests of Dreux, Roseux and Normandy, for he was a tireless hunter. His friendship with François I and their mutual love for the hunt often brought the King, Queen and entourage to Anet. It was in this ancient manor that Diane made her debut as mistress of the house.
In 1518 " La Grande Sénéchale " gave birth to her first child, a girl, who was named Françoise in tribute to the king. Three years later a second girl was born, called Louise after her grandfather.
Sharing her elderly husband's enthusiasm for the hunt, Diane acquired a reputation as a huntress which is attested by numerous paintings and sculptures. Her authentic portraits present the image of a woman of robust health with body hardened by long rides on horseback, cold baths in all seasons, a real sportswoman .
Louis de Brézé died in Anet on the 23rd of July 1531 . His widow mourned him sincerely. She had a magnificent tomb erected in the cathedral at Rouen and went into mourning which she never abandoned. Though she dressed in silks and for the most part décolleté, her attire was confined to black and white.
Her position at court did not suffer a change through her husband's death. She remained "La Grande Sénéchale".

THE ROYAL MISTRESS .

During this period, the second son of François I, Prince Henri, whose childhood was clouded by four long years of captivity in Spain, developed a strong affection for Diane which, from his 15th year on, became more and more ardent. His marriage to Catherine de Medicis in 1533 in Anet did nothing to erase the chivalrous attachment of this timid and taciturn adolescent. The beautiful widow, although almost twenty years his senior, became Henri's secret mistress.
When, in 1536, his brother died and young Henri became the heir to the throne, Diane's situation was enhanced as much as was the Dauphin's. Henri elected also to appear only in black and white under the pretext of platonic affection, making the crescent - which was attributed to the divine huntress his emblem and adopting the famous monogram with H and D interlaced.
None of this impaired the cordiality between the Grande Sénéchale and Henri's wife, Catherine. After all, Diane was the official governess of the children finally born to Catherine after eleven years of infertility. La Dauphine accepted all, resigned herself and bit her lip as she awaited her revenge.
Upon the death of François 1 on the 31st of March, 1547, Henri became king of France.

THE CONSTRUCTION OF ANET .

The previous year, Diane tought of building a more pleasant and more imposing residence than the old Gothic manor of Brézé. It is probably at this time that she charged an architect from Lyon to draw up the plans : Philibert de l'Orme then thirty-six years old and already well known through his work for Cardinal du Bellay at Saint-Maur-les-Fossés, as well as having been entrusted to build the tomb for the deceased king.
De l'Orme conceived a structure of sober design based on the classic revival with all the contemporary comforts. The year 1547 he dedicated to terracing. He drained the marshlands, creating an upper level for the buildings with a lower level for the gardens. He dug a moat and constructed two wine cellars in the neighborhood of the kitchens. He also built a sewage system.
The following year was addressed to the construction of residential quarters, starting with the new buildings before laying the foundation for the Courtyard of Honor. This part of the château extended toward the west of the old manor house which Diane had wished to preserve.
In 1549-50 the right wing and chapel were completed ; in 1551 the left wing ; thereafter the portal was erected bearing the final date : 1552.
In the main building were the apartments for Diane and those for the king, as well as reception halls ; other apartments were placed in the left wing. The right wing consisted solely of an immense " salle des fêtes " called the " Galerie de Diane". Seen from the courtyard it concealed the adjoining chapel except for the two pyramidal stone spires.
Behind each wing were lateral courts. One on the right, irregular in shape with on one side the manor of Brézé, opens onto the road to Oulins with a monumental portal known as the "Porte de Charles le Mauvais" with in its center a fountain named the Nymph of Anet.
The left hand court bordered the orangerie and aviary . In its center was another fountain with the famous sculpture of Diane reclining on a stag, long attributed to Jean Goujon and now preserved in the Louvre.
Finally, below the main building were the gardens surrounded by a long
gallery with two square shaped pavilions at each extremity. Behind the central gallery was a large pavilion used for balls and other festivities.

De l'Orme evolved an original architectural decor for the various living quarters. At the center of the main façade was a beautiful portal, each of the three tiers of which contained columns of a different classical order .Doric at the ground level, Ionic on the first, and Corinthian on the second. On this floor was a statue of the Grand Senechal to whom, according to its
Latin inscription, Diane has dedicated the building. The mullion windows, as in the previous century, were topped by pediments alternatingly triangular and arched. The smallest of the dormer windows were crowned with a motif in the form of a tomb, symbol of mourning. There were also large and very ornate cenotaphs on the monumental chimney stacks. Finally, various monograms of Diane, her husband, and King Henri, interlaced by crescents and palm branches, appear in the motifs around the balustrades bordering the terraces on each side of the portal above the moat.

INSIDE THE CHATEAU .

It is easy to imagine what , in this setting, the interior would be : bays with leaded windows " en grisaille" attributed to Jean Cousin ; Floors with small green tiles by the ceramist Abaquesne ; the walls hung with precious tapestries, the painted and gilded ceilings. The furniture was in keeping : four-poster beds , flowered chests and cabinets, table service, gold plate, books in mosaic bindings , mirrors and crystal from Venice, silks, brocades, rich wall coverings, all with Diane's initials. Not only did the château rival the most magnificent princely or royal residences , it was also an outstanding work which gained immediate fame.
Upon completion, a series of receptions and feasts were held at Anet, with the whole court in attendance, much to the delight of the king.

DIANE'S LAST YEARS .

The violent death of the King in 1559 - accidentally killed in a tournament- was a fatal blow to the eminence of the Lady of Anet. The new king was only fifteen years old and, although of age, not able to rule. His mother, Catherine, took over the affairs of State with the backing of the Guises. Would she finally take revenge upon the favorite ? Hardly had the king breathed his last when Diane, measuring the extent of her misfortune and expecting the worst, sent back the crown jewels to the Queen Mother, humbly asking forgiveness for her sins. However, by marrying her younger daughter, Louise, to Charles d' Aumale, brother of the Duc de Guise, she had managed an alliance which was to give her protection from Catherine's wrath. Catherine contented herself by reclaiming Chenonceaux but gave Chaumont to Diane in exchange. Diane, now a refugee in Anet and far removed from the court, devoted herself to the administration of her vast domain. She was active during the outbreak of the war between the Catholics and the Protestants, helping the former and hated by the latter. The tought of death now made her draw up a will in Limours in 1565 in which shemade endowments to numerous religious foundations. She also requested that a chapel be built in Anet to contain her tomb. She still had sufficient strength to visit Dauphiné in the fall but, upon returning to Anet at the end of the winter, she contracted a sudden illness and died on the 25th of April, 1566.

LOUISE DE BREZE, DUCHESSE D' AUMALE AND HER SON .

Diane's second daughter, Louise, inherited the Lordship of Anet. She had become a member of the Guise family through her marriage to Claude de Lorraine, Duc d' Aumale, ruler of Bourgogne and " great huntsman " of France. As owner of Anet, the Duke received a visit from King Charles IX (1567). More importantly, he built a large sepulchral chapel of brick and stone, designed by architect Claude de Foucques.
In 1576 Louise de Brézé, now a widow of three years, gave the château to her son, Charles de Lorraine, Duc d' Aumale, whose first act was to consecrate the chapel ; he then transferred the remains of his grandmother, Diane de Poitiers , until then resting in the parish church, to the chapel where they were solemnly re-entombed.
Charles de Lorraine received Henri III with the Queen Mother, Catherine, in 1581. They held one of Diane's grandchildren at the baptismal font of the chapel. He completed the parish church and founded a convent of the Cordeliers in the park of the château in 1583. In this same year he obtained from the king's hand a mandate to elevate the Lordship of Anet to a principality.
Unfortunately, during the religious wars, Charles de Lorraine was one of the most bitter adversaries of the future Henri IV ; after the defeat of the League at Ivry, he escaped France. His alliance with Spain precipitated his downfall ; Parliament declared him guilty of treason and condemned him to death. Since he was in Brussels at this time, he was quartered in effigy ; but the Château d' Anet was ordered to be razed to the ground and the surrounding woods felled. Fortunately, Henri IV in a conciliatory mood rescinded this part of the sentence. Later he was to show great benevolence towards the Duchesse d' Aumale, Marie de Lorraine, by honoring her with a visit to the château, together with his queen. This took place a few weeks before his assassination in 1610.
Ruined by her husband and harassed by creditors, the Duchesse was forced to sell the château to Marie de Luxembourg, the Duchesse de Mercoeur and sister-in-law of Henri III.

CESAR DE VENDOME .

Françoise de Lorraine, daughter of Madame de Mercoeur , was married to César de Vendôme, the natural but recognized son of Henri IV and Gabrielle d'Estrées. This proud and wild " Grand Seigneur " spent part of his life conspiring against Richelieu and subsequently, Mazarin. With his two sons, the Ducs de Beaufort and de Mercoeur, he became one of the principal instigators of the plot by the " Importants " who sought to impose guardianship by the " Grands Seigneurs " upon the regent after the death of Louis XIII. Anet, which César had inherited in 1623, was thus a secure sanctuary for him and for his family, as well as an imposing residence, when the threat of arrests did not oblige him to flee the country. When the " Fronde " exploded during the minority of Louis XVI , he did not move, calmed it seems by his long exile.
Mercoeur, however, joined Mazarin marrying one of his nieces. Only Beaufort enrolled in the Army of the Princes and became the idol of Paris, the " King of the Halles ".
César died, an invalid, in 1665. The Duchesse de Vendôme continued to live in Anet until her death in 1669 ; she left the principality to her grandson, Louis Joseph de Vendôme, elder son of the Duc de Mercoeur.
During all these vicissitudes the château was often deserted and poorly cared for. Whatever César had been able to do, considering his adventurous
entreprises, was not enough to maintain Diane's residence in a good state.

THE MARECHAL LOUIS-JOSEPH DE VENDOME .

The new owner of Anet was a soldier par excellence who, having joined the " gardes du corps " when very young, participated in all the major campaigns of Louis XIV , along with his brother Philippe who later gained high office as " Grand Prieur " of France ; Louis-Joseph climbed the top echelons of the military hierarchy through his bravery and courage.
In 1678, at the age of 24, he was named Field Marshal and three years later he became governor of Provence. For several years, during which time the king had no need for his services, he settled in Anet, where he undertook important repairs of the château and began the rather dubious task of " modernizing " the great work of Philibert de l'Orme. Claude Desgots, inspector of Royal Buildings and nephew of Le Nôtre, was responsible for this work of " rejuvenation", which changed profoundly the former arrangements inside and outside the château.
New apartments were built in the right wing to replace Diane's gallery. The left wing saw even more changes : various apartments were eliminated on the ground floor to create a large vestibule and a grandiose single flight staircase with banisters of wrought iron bearing the monograms of the Duke and leading to a festival hall on the first floor. New apartments were built under the roof which was raised and its pitch modified. Placed in the center of the façade were Ionic columns enclosing a sculptured trophy. The stone mullion windows of the ground floor were replaced by French windows, the famous windows painted " en grisaille" by plain glass, and the glazed tile of the floors by black and white marble.
Behind the left wing and adjoining it, a building with a mansard roof was erected, linked by a semi-circular wall topped with decorative vases to a similar building adjacent to the corner pavilion called " du Gouvernement ".
In redecorating the interior Vendôme called upon renowned artists of the period. It is said that Claude III Audran, whose presence in Anet was documented in 1690, painted the ground floor apartments in the " grotesque " style and that the animal painter, François Desportes , was also involved in this work.
The design for the gardens was entrusted to the famous Le Nôtre, who began by leveling off the grounds of the château, removing the tennis court, the orangerie, the aviary and the large gallery surrounding the gardens. The " cryptoporticus ", this vaulted gallery at the foot of the main building, and the crescent staircase descending to the flowerbeds were replaced by stepped terraces, thus compensating for the different levels between the Court of Honor and gardens. A wide canal was dug around the gardens, beyond which was created a wooded park with radiating lanes.

The Maréchal de Vendôme - as did his brother the " Grand Prieur " - led an extravagant and wasteful life ; the enormous debt incurred in transforming his estates resulted in his ruin. He had to sell his house Rue St Honoré in Paris (known now as Place Vendôme)to the king to pay off his debts.

THE FESTIVITIES AT ANET DURING VENDOME OCCUPANCY .

In the course of his occupancy of Anet, Vendôme gathered around him lots of pleasure companions and well known writers noted for their conviviality and wit, to whom he extended boundless hospitality . Among these were Chaulieu, Chapelle, Bachaumont, Dangeau, La Fontaine, Campistron, Molière. Within ten years the Grand Dauphin, son of Louis XIV , visited the Marshall seven times. In September 1686 he brought with him most of the court. The reception was dazzling, costing Vendôme more than 100.000 pounds. The first evening Lulli's opera " Acis et Galatée " was performed, especially written for this occasion and the last lyric work Lulli was to compose. The games, the spectacles, the wolf hunt and the unending banquets combined to make the eight days into one long festival.
But the Duc of Vendôme was called by the king to participate to new campaigns in which he covered himself with glory. In 1710, having just married Marie-Anne de Bourbon-Condé, he was sent by Louis XIV to the Pyrenees to help Philippe V, the king's grandson who had ascended the Spanish throne six years previously and had since been exposed to attacks by Austria and England. Vendôme's victory saved the Spanish monarchy and was a decisive step toward the restoration of peace. He died after a short illness in Vinaroz, Spain, in 1712 and was greatly honored by being buried in the kings tomb at the Estuarial.
His widow , the Duchess of Vendôme, continued on living at Anet where she was able to complete the work. At the same time she fought the claim of the Minister of Finance who wished to dissolve Anet as a principality and to make it a property of the Crown. She died young, without issue, in 1718.

 

THE DUCHESSE DU MAINE .

The Princesse de Condé, mother of the Duchesse de Vendôme, inherited from her daughter, but died in turn in 1723.Her demise left the estate in litigation for nine years. It was her eighth daughter, Anne-Louise-Bénedicte de Bourbon, Duchesse du Maine, who finally returned to the Château d'Anet.
Previously, the library of Diane de Poitiers, which had been augmented by her successors, had been sold to face the costs of succession, its 171 manuscripts on vellurn scattered.
The Duc du Maine, Louis-Auguste de Bourbon, the natural but acknowledged son of Louis XIV and Madame de Montespan, was an enlightened prince, highly cultured and with a serious and reflective mind. His wife, grand-daughter of the famous Condé of royal blood, was a witty woman ; she was also enterprising and ambitious , as well as frivolous, at times excessively gay and lively. She was approaching sixty when she inherited Anet. It had been a long time since the receptions at Sceaux where she had held court for the " beaux esprits ". She attempted to revive these at Anet, dividing her life between the two residences, surrounded always by her literary coterie.
She made new changes in the château, renovating two apartments, one on the ground floor of the left wing, the other at the end of the gallery of Diane, as well as certain other rooms. In 1733 she called Audran back to Anet. He redecorated, along with Christophe Huet, the ceilings in various salons.
Voltaire and Madame du Châtelet were guests of the Duchesse in 1746, returning to the château the following year at which time he wrote a play for the feast of Saint-Louis. On the 7th of June, 1749, Louis XV paid the Duchesse, his aunt, a visit at Anet ; he meditated before the tomb of Diane de Poitiers, his ancestor, before proceeding on horseback through the forest of Dreux to the Château de Crécy.
Three years before her death, already in ill health and saddened by the loss of many of her relatives, the Duchesse divided her estate between her two sons. The eldest, Prince de Dombes, received both Dreux and Anet.

THE SONS OF THE DUCHESSE DU MAINE .

The Prince de Dombes seldom frequented the court ; he installed himself in the château, addressing his efforts to its maintenance and increasing his domain with numerous acquisitions. In order to provide water for the gardens , he conceived a hydraulic machine which he had built and installed in the park on the shore of the Eure. He died in 1755, a bachelor, without progeny, leaving his properties to his brother, the Comte d'Eu.
The Count loved to stay at Anet where he could pursue his favorite sport, the hunt. When he reached old age, he continued to traverse the countryside and neighboring forest in a small mechanical vehicle. His kindness and generosity earned him the love of all around him. He died a bachelor. Two years before, he had sold many of his possessions, including Anet, to King Louis XV for the fabulous sum of twelve million. He had named his cousin, the Duc de Penthièvre, as his principal heir.

THE DUC DE PENTHIEVRE .

Louis XV met his death shortly before the death of Count d'Eu, not having settled the purchase. His successor, Louis XVI, annulled the transaction as too great a strain on the royal purse. The Duc de Penthièvre therefore came into possession of the principality of Anet in 1775. The Duc, Governor of Bretagne and admiral of France united, by inheriting Anet, all the possessions which Louis XIV had bestowed on his two legitimated sons, so becoming the richest landowner in all the kingdom.
The Duc was a charitable and virtuous man, simple and affable. He divided his time between the Court, the Hôtel de Toulouse in Paris and his numerous châteaux in the country. He was particularly fond of Anet where he had the affection of his people. Among his few intimates, he counted the Chevalier de Florian , that gentle poet who often sang of Anet in his verse :

Anet, ce charmant séjour, Ce vallon où la Nature Epuisa ses trésors Pour contenter l'Amour...

. During this time the château was perfectly maintained and nothing was changed. When the revolution broke out the Duc was not disquieted because of the great respect in which he was held. He died in his château de Bizy, near Vernon, in March 1793, leaving his properties to his only daughter , the Duchesse d'Orléans.

DEVASTATION .

Only five weeks after Penthièvre's death the château was sequestered. For four years it stayed uninhabited and therefore uncared for, a state, a condition which encouraged the audacity of the revolutionaries. During the Terror the populace forced the door of the funerary chapel where they then conducted their meetings. They quartered the National Guard there and installed a Justice of the Peace. On the façade were inscribed the words " Death to the Tyrants " and " Vigilance by the People ".
On the 18th of June 1795 two commissioners of the Sûreté from Dreux, with a handful of Sans-Culottes desecrated Diane's resting place, opened the coffin and hurried her body in a hastily dug grave in the parish churchyard.
The Duchesse d'Orléans was deported at the end of January, 1798 and the sequestered château adjudicated by the administration of the Department d'Eure-et-Loir. The furniture, the gold plates, table service and art works were sold. The domain was then divided into four parts : the château and gardens fell into the hands of two dealers , Ramsden and Herigoyen, who sold all valuable goods : lead, parquets, chimneys, paneling, doors , and even the gildings .
Luckily , Alexandre Lenoir , art lover and founder of the Musée des Monuments Français in Paris , succeeded in rescuing numerous treasures torn from the château. He persuaded the State to buy many of the scattered pieces of Diane's tomb : the funerary statue, the black marble sarcophagus - which was being used as a pig trough at a neighboring farm - and the altar piece by Pierre Bontemps. These were sent to Paris. Subsequently when the new owners began attacking the buildings themselves , Lenoir prevented the destruction of important works : Diane with the Stag from the fountain, the Nymph and the Victories from the Portal and even the frontispieces of the main buildings were placed in his museum. After seeing these acquisitions in Paris, Bonaparte, who was then First Consul, visited the Château d'Anet on the 29 of October, 1892 on his way to the battle field at Ivry , a distance of only a few kilometers.
In 1804 Diane's dwelling, now devastated, fell into the hands of a new owner, one Demonti fils, who demolished the buildings after having felled all the trees in the park. He blew up the main building as well as the right wing . Miraculously the chapel was untouched.
The inhabitants of Anet looked upon these vandalism operations with a very bad eye ; and when a workman fell while starting to demolish the roof of the left wing, a real riot resulted. The owner escaped.
After this the château remained empty and abandoned until purchased by Louise-Marie-Adelaïde, dowager Duchesse d'Orléans and daughter of the Duc de Penthièvre (1820).

RESTAURATION .

The Duchess didn't have time to re-erect Anet from its ruins. She died less than nine months after its repurchase in 1821. Her son, the future king, Louis-Philippe, recoiled before the enormous cost of the reconstruction. He sold the château to Louis Passy, tax collector general of the Department de l'Eure. As this gentleman was never at Anet, he merely contented himself by enclosing the gaping ruins of the left wing with a wall.
In 1840 the domain finally came into the possession of a new buyer in the person of Count Adolphe de Caraman who, with great courage, began the restoration of the abandoned dwelling. He began by making the pavilions habitable as well as some rooms of the remaining wing and there he installed himself. A well-known architect , Auguste Caristie, was called in to restore the chapel and its façade in its original style.
This work, which was completed in 1851, drew the attention of the Minister of the Interior who the following year classified the chapel and portal as historical monuments , according the owner a substantial subsidy.
Mr de Caraman then undertook the restoration of the great portal ; he had a replica made of the Nymph by Cellini placed on the tympanum , the original having been put in the Louvre after the closing of the Musée de Lenoir. He replaced the ancient clock - which had disappeared - with a new one and restored on top of the building the stag and the dogs on top of the clock.
The old park, which had been laid out by Le Nôtre, long since unrecognizable, was transformed in the English fashion by the landscape architect Bühler.
But now the Count de Caraman suffered a reverse of his fortunes and in 1860 was forced to sell Anet to Mr Ferdinand Moreau , Deputy of the Seine and member of the general council of Eure-et-Loir . Mr Moreau continued the work of restoration so well begun.

MONSIEUR FERDINAND MOREAU .

The new owner put three architects in charge of restoring the old buildings. The rooms were provided with furniture still in the château, augmented by those pieces found scattered throughout the region. Diane's bed was purchased from a nearby inn ; sideboards, stained glass windows, gold plate, ceramic objects, books, paintings were also recovered in this way. The four large tapestries depicting the history of Diane and designed for Anet in the 16th century were repurchased at a sale in Paris.
In 1868 Moreau acquired the Grand Parc and other properties - the whole estate was entirely surrounded by water. The mills which stood alongside the canal were torn down to attain a sweeping view. Other improvements were also made : The construction of large outbuildings , the re-establishment of the fountain with a marble basin at the end of the wing still standing. In 1879 the " cryptoportique" was found after having been lost for two hundred years and thought destroyed.

ANET - THE LAST HUNDRED YEARS .

Upon the death of Mr Moreau in 1884 his daughter and son-in-law, Count Guy de Leusse, inherited Anet. Many sound improvements were effected. The canal was restored to its original size upriver from the waterfall, the collection of beautiful works enriched, the gilded doors of the vestibule restored. The glass windows " en grisaille " of the chapel, broken during the revolution, were replaced.
During the 1914 war Madame de Leusse installed an auxiliary Red Cross hospital in the château, which she managed with the greatest devotion.
In time Anet became an acknowledged historical monument as did the site itself. After the war it was opened to the public ; many people flocked to see it.
The property suffered greatly during the second World War. The beautiful Convent of the Cordeliers, built in 1583 at the foot of the park by Charles de Lorraine, was bombed in June, 1940 and went up in flames with the furnishings and its rich collection of books.
The château was occupied by the German military throughout the war. In 1944, just before liberation, the battle raged all around it ; during the bombardment of enemy tanks about 30 hectares of the surrounding forest were destroyed, but the buildings themselves were spared.
The Comtesse Guy de Leusse died in November, 1944, leaving the château to her granddaughter, Madame de Yturbe. Restoration and improvements were resumed. Thanks to Mr Charles de Yturbe and his wife, the restoration of the hunting pavilion built by Philibert de l'Orme was brought to completion in 1950. Above all, in 1951 the ugly wooden obstruction which blocked and so disfigured the relief of the entrance portal was removed.
Other works of restoration followed, particularly of the doors of the chapel and, in stages, all of the roofing and the release of the old brick manor house of Brézé until then badly encumbered by glass enclosures (1952). Castings of the " Victoires " by Cellini, lost in the 19th century, were placed in the spandrels above the portal (1956).

It took from 1959 to 1967 to complete the restoration of the funerary chapel to its original state ; inside, the vaulting and flooring were entirely reworked to accommodate the sarcophagus with the statue of Diane and the bas-relief by Pierre Bontemps which formed the altar piece, all of which had been dispersed during the revolution. The astrospheres atop the pyramids on the chapel were remade and gilded. Diane's bed was restored and in 1976 declared an historical monument. And the magnificent altars , designed by Philibert de l'Orme, were taken out of storage from the Louvre and reinstalled in the chapel (1979).
These labors of love performed over the last century and a half have gained for Anet incomparable prestige as a masterpiece of the French Renaissance ; so, with the remains of her illustrious past, she stands as a unique witness to that historic period of the building arts.



Where is Anet ?

The château d'Anet is situated at 78 km of Paris and at 16 km from Dreux . From Porte Maillot in Paris take the motorway A14 then the A13 (towards Rouen), take exit N°12 to Mantes Sud then follow D 928 (towards Dreux).

 

For further information, please apply to :

Château d'Anet
28260 ANET
France .
Telephone 02.37.41.90.07.
Fax : 02 37 41 96 45

E-mail.

Opening days. 
Short history. Virtual visit.  Photos..

© 2010 Anet - reproduction interdite.

 

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