Northern France _ Chantilly _ Chateau © CRTC Hauts-de-France - Vincent ColinNorthern France _ Chantilly _ Chateau © CRTC Hauts-de-France - Vincent Colin
©Northern France, Chantilly, Chateau|CRTC Hauts-de-France - Vincent Colin

Raphaël’s The Three Graces in Chantilly

the second-large collection of paintings in France after the Louvre

Beauty speaks to our souls. The Musée Condé at the heart of the Domaine de Chantilly has the second-largest collection of antique paintings in France. Henri d’Orléans, Duke of Aumale, left this fairytale castle and all its collections to the Institut de France in 1897, with the instruction that they remained displayed in the style of the time. Discover more about Raphaël.

Northern France _ Chantilly _ Condé Museum © CRTC Hauts de France -Teddy HeninNorthern France _ Chantilly _ Condé Museum © CRTC Hauts de France -Teddy Henin
©Northern France, Chantilly, Condé Museum|CRTC Hauts de France -Teddy Henin
Step by step

The Chantilly Estate

According to Professor Michel Lejoyeux, a psychiatrist specialising in addiction, ‘contemplating works of art causes, among other things, an increase in the feel-good hormone serotonin thanks to the emotions they awaken.’

At the heart of the parklands designed by André Le Nôtre, the Château de Chantilly satisifies our appetite for beautiful things with its second-largest collection of antique paintings in France after the Louvre. The plush, hectagonal Santuario de Chantilly holds the treasures of the Duke of Aumale, the greatest collector of his time, whose paintings, drawings, photographs, furniture and prints can still be found here. Lets focus on two legendary works by the famed High Renaissance painter Raphaël.

Step by step

Spotlight on Raphaël’s legendary The Three Graces

Guide Mathieu Deldique talks us through this most famous of all the works at Chantilly – a small work measuring just 17cm2 but one of exceptional intensity. It’s one of the rare secular works of Raphaël’s Florentine period (1504-05), during which he was trained by his two great masters, Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci. He was fêted for it in his lifetime and indeed it become one of the highest achievements of classic aesthetics in the Renaissance. There are several interpretations of the work.

‘All art, perfection and harmony is present in this painting by Raphaël’, explains Deldique. These three young naked beauties reveal themselves through their graceful, lightly swaying movement within a tranquil landscape, an idyllic slice of nature with soft, filtered light that emphasises the perfection of their bodies and unifies them. The art of Raphaël is a search for harmony, one he approaches via several preliminary drawings and sketches in order to achieve a perfect painting. This is absolute harmony, says Deldique, adding, ‘touched by grace, Raphaël was for a long time nicknamed ‘the divine painter’.”

This three young muses inspired more of our most famous painters and sculptors, including Rubens, Fragonard, Botticelli and even Picasso, who chose large-scale Cubist works to portray them in his own way.

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Step by step

A look at another of Raphaël’s works, The Madonna of Loreto

Let’s lose ourselves in contemplation of this Virgin and child with its simple, natural composition, allowing ourselves to appreciate the wordless message conveyed by its shapes, colour and nuances. ‘This is a painting that was cleaned in 1970’, said Mathieu Deldique, who is an art restorer. And lo and behold it was found to be the original work from the prestigious, precious Borghese collection in 17th-century Rome – hence, of incredible quality. Let’s observe the surprising thoughts and emotions that this scene of maternal love calls forth in us. Look at the expressions of the two main characters, the movements of the hands, the tenderness. Let’s allow ourselves be flooded by a feeling of gentleness and trust in our intuition. Does the work challenge us? What does it reveal to us about ourselves? How does it question us? What message does Raphaël want to convey?