THE PORTAL .
entrance is part of a long architectural unit which is
immediately noticed upon arrival at the château. To the right of
the portal are terraces overlooking the moat with balustrades
laced with the monograms of Diane and Louis de Brézé,
intertwined by deltas . These extend to the corner pavilion
called the " Pavillon de la Vénerie " or the hunter's
pavilion . To the left is the semicircular structure between the
wing of the château and the " Pavillon du Gouvernement
" built by the Duc de Vendôme . Beyond is the funerary
chapel built a Quarter of a century after the château . The
brick bordered by white stone produces a happy contrast and it
harmonizes with the the green lawns and the verdure of the
gardens and the park .
The portal is a genuine triumphal arch-raised to the glory of the Goddess of the Hunt - with its precious marble encrustations and its four Doric columns framing the carriage entrance and the two little doors . Above the entrance the black marble lintel carries the following dedication :
sacrata est almae domus
Verum accepta cui cuncta
(This magnificent dwelling is dedicated by Phoebus to the goodly Diane who in turn is grateful to him for all she has received).
The tympanum and its spandrels are decorated with the casting of the Nymph and the two Victories originally sculpted in 1543 by Cellini for the Château de Fontainebleau and presented to Diane de Poitiers by Henri II. The first floor of the portal which extends to the level above the wings, as well as the floor above on both sides of the clock, form terraces from which one used to watch the departure for the hunt and where often musicians were installed .
The stag with the hounds at the top of the portal is a modern work, made after the Revolution and replacing the original by de l'Orme. Thanks to an ingenious mechanism, the hart sounds the hour on a bell with his hoof while the dogs bark.
Upon entering the château one passes across the moat over a two-arched stone bridge which has replaced the 17th century wooden one. On the door are sculptured scenes depicting the sports of fishing and of the chase. One may note an interesting arch in the portal' s molding.
THE GROUND FLOOR OF THE CHATEAU .
the " cour d'honneur" one can see the chapel on
the right hand side and on the left hand side the remaining wing which now
constitutes the château.
Only part of the apartments are open to visitors.
On the ground floor one enters the large vestibule designed by Desgots at the request of the Maréchal de vendôme, paved with black and white tiles, the walls decorated with fluted pillars crowned by Corinthian capitals. Busts of Roman emperors stand on various consoles.
A magnificent staircase with a wrought iron banister bearing the monogram of the Maréchal leads up to the apartments on the first floor. Two torch-bearing warriors sculptured in the 17th century stand on each side of the door opening to the salon. The vestibule also houses two pieces of furniture which were once in the old Convent of the Cordeliers of Anet : a large vestry cupboard between the two windows overlooking the park and, under the staircase, a refectory table standing on a podium of Languedoc marble. Close by is a sedan chair with the coat of arms of the Duc de Penthièvre.
On the right hand side of the vestibule are three gilded doors decorated with the monogram of Louis-Joseph de Vendôme opening to the Salon Rouge which up to the end of the 18th century served as a bedroom, at various times used by the Grand Dauphin, oldest son of Louis XIV. The ceiling, originally painted by Audran, was redone during the last century following an earlier design. It now holds a rose window decorated with bats which are the symbol of the night. The room has beautiful 16th century furniture ; the piece on the right, set off by gold, is attributed to Jean Goujon. In the center hangs a chandelier decorated with fleurs de Lys. On the left one may see a 16th century statue of the Virgin by Andrea della Robbia, and on the " secretum meum " (commode) there is a painted portrait of Henry II and Catherine de Médicis. The monumental stucco fireplace is topped by a heavy cenotaph, a frequently used motif throughout the château.
At the left side of the vestibule one may admire a glass cabinet with a remarkable collection of antique porcelain plates by Bernard Palissy from Urbino and Faenza, and two candelabra from Saint-Porchaire. There are also 17th and 1 8th century porcelains from Rouen.
Above the cabinet are three angels by Andrea della Robbia. The floor is paved with green tiles made in Rouen by the famous ceramist Abaquesne ; in the 16th century such tiles covered all the floors of the château.
One now comes to the dining room hung with tapestries depicting falconry and duck and bear hunting. Two walnut caryatides, sculpted by Puget support the great mantel-piece which carries the coat of arms of Diane de Poitiers. Above it is an inscription from Virgil : " Dapibus mensas oneramus inemptis " (Our tables are laden with viands which are not bought). This inscription was originally over the hearth of the old 16th century dining room. An alabaster medallion portraying Diane with the stag, attributed to Jean Goujon, hangs above the center of the mantel-piece.
THE FIRST FLOOR OF THE CHATEAU
staircase leads to a landing from where there is a grand view of
the canal designed by Le Nôtre ; from here one enters the salle
de gardes , 13 meters long and lined with a series of tapestries
illustrating the history of Diane. These tapestries were very
likely made by order of Henri II to decorate Anet ; the borders
carry the arms and monogram of Diane. They are believed to have
been woven in Fontainebleau or in Paris and very likely from
sketches by Jean Cousin le père around 1552-1555.
The furniture in the salle includes numerous pieces of the Renaissance period - bronzes, porcelain, a cradle and a curious trunk studded with the arms of Henri II. There are some interesting paintings on the walls, one supposedly of Diane de Poitiers by Francisco Primaticcio.
Beyond the salle de gardes one finds the " Chambre d'Honneur " with a superb four-poster bed carved with the crescents of Diane ; it is hung with the most beautiful textile fabrics and embroidery. On the wall is a tapestry depicting Joseph explaining to the Pharaoh the meaning of his dreams. There are also two paintings from the school of Fontainebleau.
In the adjacent small tower chamber used as a dressing room there is a Renaissance jewel case. The original stained glass windows were designed by Jean Cousin.
THE CHAPEL OF THE CHATEAU .
finished in 1550, was a masterpiece by Philibert de l'Orme and
one of his favorite works. Built in the form of a Greek cross
with one of the first domes built in France, it is coffered and
creates the impression of great height and lightness. The
pavement is of precious marble and is an exact projection of the
design in the dome. The rose motif in the center, encrusted with
colored marble from palaces of Roman emperors, corresponds with
The bas-relief of the vaulting, very likely the work of Jean Goujon, represents the " renommées " announcing the Resurrection of Christ on the inside of the arms of the Greek cross. Angels carry with triumphant joy the instruments of the Passion, visible signs of Redemption : the nails, the sponge at the end of the stick, the crown of thorns, the cock of St. Peter, and the sword with which he cut the ear of Malchus, also the veil of St. Veronica. The statues of the twelve apostles have long been attributed to Germain Pilon.
Above the entrance is the gallery where Diane de Poitiers attended the services.
Wonderful sculptured paneling has been preserved on the doors opening to the peristyle, with the one in the centre with curious carvings.
The altars, also designed by de l'Orme, were removed after the Revolution, but found and re-installed.
THE FUNERARY CHAPEL
one year before her death, Diane de Poitiers charged Claude de
Foucques, architect for the princes of Lorraine, with the design
of the chapel which was consecrated in 1577.
It was built of brick and stone ; the lower part of the façade is formed by four Corinthian columns with a door in the center. There are two large side niches with statues representing Faith and Charity. Above the door is a rectangle and above that a round window with symbolic figures on both sides. Above the large entablature is a three-part attic crowned with a pediment placed against an architectural motif ; this motif is dominated by a sculpture of the three Renommées leaning on the tomb which carries Diane's coat of arms.
The interior of the chapel is bossed vaulted. Two-thirds of the way down the nave, before the choir and above the tomb itself, stands the funerary monument which bas been attributed (but without proof) to Pierre Bontemps ; it holds the kneeling figure of Diane de Poitiers mounted on a cenotaph of black marble.
On the retable - which may very well be by Bontemps - are figures representing the " Adoration of the Magi". These were badly damaged during the Revolution. Originally there was a statue of the Virgin, patron saint of the chapel, placed here.
It is interesting to note that this classically inspired and beautifully proportioned structure was the prototype of a new style in architecture to be carried on at Saint-Bruno in Bordeaux and to become widespread in the 17th century.
THE PARK .
architect Philibert de l'Orme created, within a wide gallery, a
large garden divided into twenty four squares containing aromatic
plants and flowers. On each side stood two beautiful white marble
fountains. Later Dupeyrac and Claude Mollet, both famous royal
gardeners , improved the gardens.
In 1685, the park was completely transformed. Le Nôtre redesigned it : he razed the gallery and the enclosed parterres. New plans were drawn for the gardens : they included a division of the park into compartments planted " en broderie " with a wide canal running along the main axis of the château.
After the Revolution, in 1793, the park was abandoned for sixty years. It was only in around 1850 that the present park was redesigned by the famous landscape architect Bühler.
Where is Anet ?
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
For further information, please apply to :
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© 2010 Anet - reproduction interdite.