One thing about Château de Chantilly that I found especially interesting is that its collection of art was personally owned by its last private owner, the Duke of Aumale.
Upon the Duke’s passing, he bequeathed his estate – including his impressive art collection – to the Institute of France with the instructions that a museum be created. He stipulated that none of the pieces be loaned out, and that none of the spaces of the chateau could be modified. As a result, the museum remains almost unchanged since it was opened in 1898 and visitors are given the opportunity to travel back in time.
One especially noteworthy piece is famed Italian artist Raphael‘s, Three Graces.
Housed in the Santuario and displayed in a place of pride, Three Graces is the smallest of the estate’s masterpieces. Each of the women depicted, also known as Graces, are reportedly minor goddesses of beauty, charm, nature, human creativity, and fertility.
An x-ray of tiny oil painting shows that Raphael originally painted only 1 woman to be holding a golden ball, but later changed his mind – and the piece – deciding to show all 3 women holding apples to represent Hesperidia, who bestowed immortality to humans by giving them apples.