French Chateau Laces                © J. Ames 2013

Imagine owning 18 chateaux! This is the happy circumstance of a lace collector in Maine.

Rarely do we have an opportunity to view laces of such exquisite beauty as this set of 12 French chateau place mats and a table runner depicting an additional 6 chateaux. It is needle lace that stops us in our tracks; lace so very special that a viewer may forget to breathe!

The present owner's great grandmother purchased this set in a New York City lace shop in 1910 for $2,000. Since then, the family has protected them. All the place mats are enclosed in frames, and the table runner has been sparingly used.

Each chateau is identified within the lace. The plant life surrounding the delicately worked chateaux is appropriate to each. All are different and fun to study.

These were made before the widespread destruction of two World Wars in the 20th C. Present images of the chateaux may be different. After Vi Eastman photographed these laces, it was possible to enlarge them on a computer (only possible in recent years) and see the minutest details. Then, a search chateau-by-chateau was done. A marvelous grand tour of French Chateaux!

If you have any additional information that can be shared, please include in your comments. Specifically value, whether there are other sets of these chateau laces in lace collections, and where/when they were made and by whom.

J. Ames

 

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Chateau de Coucy was destroyed by the Germans in March 1917. It had been built in the 1220's and renovated in the 19th century. On the internet it tells of the dynamiting using 28 tons of explosives. The destruction caused so much public outrage that in April 1917 the ruins were declared “a memorial to barbarity”. War reparations were used to clear the the four smaller towers and to consolidate the walls but the ruins of the keep (largest tower) were left in place. Current photos show the ruins.

 

Chambord is a royal chateau in the French Renaissance architectural style, built to serve as a hunting lodge for Francois I, who maintained his royal residences at Chateau de Blois and Chateau de Amboise (also featured in this set of lace chateau images). It is the largest chateau in the Loire Valley, and is surrounded by a 13,000 acre wooded park and game reserve. Construction of Chambord begain in 1519. Open to the public.

 

Chantilly is the site of two attached buildings – the Petit Chateau built around 1560, and the Grand Chateau, which was destroyed during the French Revolution and rebuilt in the 1870s. Chantilly is owned by the Institut de France and houses one of the finest art galleries in France. The library of the Petit Chateau contains over 1,300 manuscripts (some 200 of which are medieval) and 12,500 printed volumes, including a Gutenberg Bible. This site is open to the public.

 

Fontainebleau's construction began in the 16th C. during the rule of Francis I. An older chateau on this site was in use in the latter part of the 12th C. This is one of the largest French royal chateaux, and many of France's kings have lived here. Part of the chateau is now home to the Ecoles d'Art Americaines, a school of art, architecture, and music for students from the United States. The school was founded by General Pershing when his men were stationed here during World War I.

 

Chateau de Sully is approached by an axial stone bridge across its moat. It was built to control one of the few sites where the Loire can be forded, and has perhaps been fortified since Gallo-Roman times, certainly since the early 11th C. The first cylindrical keep's foundation, built in 1218, has been located. As with many chateaux, it was built and restored over the course of several centuries. The chateau of Henry IV's minister, Maximilien de Bethune (1560-1641) and the ducs de Sully, it remains the home of the present duchesse de Magenta and her family. Listed as a monument historique by the French Ministry of Culture.

 

 

Chateau de Chaumont is a castle founded in the 10th century. Louis XI ordered the castle's destruction in 1465. Rebuilding started almost immediately. The castle was acquired by Catherine de Medici in 1550, and it was here that she entertained numerous astrologers, among them Nostradamus. This site has been classified as a Monument historique since 1840 by the French Ministry of Culture. It was donated to the government in 1938, and is currently a museum open to the public.

 

 

Outrelaise (in Normandy) was built during the 16th, 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. It appears to currently be a privately-owned conference center and bed & breakfast.

 

 

Maintenon is best known as the private residence of the second spouse of Louis XIV, Madame de Maintenon. Construction began in the 12th century and ended roughly in the 18th century. It is classified as a Monument historique by the French Ministry of Culture. In 2005, the property was given to the Conseil general d'Eure-et-Loir.

 

 

Chateau de Luynes – an early castle on this site in the Loire Valley was destroyed in the late 10th or early 11th C. Rebuilding began in the 12th C. This chateau has experienced destruction and rebuilding for centuries. The dukes of Luynes still own the chateau.

 

 

Chateau de Bethune was an important 11th C. fortress on the Sauldre River.  Some time after the lace was made (late 19th C.), the name appears to have been changed to Chateau de la Chapelle d'Angillon.  This, and other lace images in this chateau collection are related to the family names of Bethune and Sully, presenting interesting comparisons for historians.  The site is now used for special public and social events, and there is a museum of art objects.

 

Petit Trianon is a small chateau located on the grounds of the Palace of Versailles, constructed by order of Louis XV for his mistress, Madame de Pompadour. She died before it was completed, and it was occupied by her successor, Madame du Barry. When Louis XVI became king, he gave the chateau and its surrounding park to his 19-year-old Queen Marie Antoinette for her exclusive use and enjoyment.

 

 

Chateau de Blois was the residence of several French kings. It is the place where Joan of Arc went in 1429 to be blessed by the Archbishop of Reims before departing with her army to drive the English from Orleans. The multiple buildings were constructed from the 13th to the 17th centuries. It has 564 rooms and 75 staircases. The 16th century library at this site was eventually moved to the royal Chateau de Fontainebleau where it became the royal library that forms the core of the present Bibliotheque Nationale de France.

 

 

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                                                                 Rambouillet                        Bonnetable

 

                                Moulin                           Pierrefonds                    Amboise                 Fenelon

 

East End of Runner – 25” wide (Chateau de Fenelon)

 

Chateau de Fenelon (east end of table runner) is located in Dordogne, Aquitane, France. It dates from the 13th C., but what is seen today is mostly from 16th C. refurbishments. A combination of Middle Ages fortifications and Renaissance beauty. Furnishings are from the 15th to 18th centuries. Open to the public.

 

 

Chateau de Bonnetable was restored in the 1470's by the Norman family d'Hartcourt, after the original 11th C. chateau had been demolished during the 100 years war between Great Britain and France. The chateau has a long history with links to many European royal families. During the 1880's it was extensively renovated in Neo-gothic style, and renovations continue to the present. It is privately owned and not open to the public.

 

 

Chateau d' Amboise has a very ancient history, dating back to the 9th C. It is where Mary, Queen of Scots, was raised by Henry II and his wife, Catherine de' Medici. Records show that Leonardo da Vinci was buried in the church of Saint Florentin, part of the Chateau d' Amboise. During the French Revolution the greater part of the chateau was demolished. Rebuilt, since 1840, it has been listed as a monument historique by the French Ministry of Culture. Presently, the comte de Paris repairs and maintains the chateau through the Foundation Saint-Louis.

 

 

Chateau de Moulin (west end of table runner) was built in 1492 in the Franco-Italian art style. It is surrounded by moats, as can be seen in the lace. It is privately inhabited.

 

Chateau de Rambouillet was a fortified manor dating back to 1368. In 1783, it became the private property of Louis XVI, who bought it from his cousin as an extension of his hunting grounds. During the French Revolution the chateau was emptied of its furnishings and the gardens and surrounding park fell into neglect. Since the late 19th C., the chateau has become the summer residence of France's Presidents of the Republic.

 

 

Chateau de Pierrefonds bears the characteristics of defensive military architecture from the Middle Ages, though it underwent several restorations through the centuries. Classified as a monument historique by the French Ministry of Culture since 1848. This chateau has often been the “location” for modern films and TV series.

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Thank you so much for these photo essays. 

I visited Fontainebleu not that long ago and I have to say that it is a chateau for which it is difficult to compose an iconic image. The original building was altered with additional wings and it is actually a very convoluted structure. The last time I visited it I was with an architect and he really hated it. Interestingly, he much preferred Vaux le Vicomte because it was very symmetrical and unaltered. 

So, I think that putting Fontainebleu on the mat series was an interesting choice since it is by no means easy to make a pleasing exterior image of it. Even the interior is a mix of different periods which is dizzying to aesthetic purists, although every room is splendid beyond belief. 

Thank you for checking this out. I am wondering if there is a yet unfound (by us) version by Victor Petit, or if the designer had to stray from that formula and use another source.

Thank you J. for sharing these fantastic pieces with us and adding all the interesting comments. Incites me to practice more needle lace although I do not aim for such large pieces.

Just another little bit of research on this subject. I have been looking at the world trade fairs that set the social and economic context building up to their creation. I have been able to ascertain that the Minne-Densaert were indeed making lace from 'tableaux' (can be translated as paintings / engravings or other 2D artwork) and were making lace of buildings, this apparently being relatively unusual in 1905...

Attachments:

On the topic of French Chateau lace, I ran across this description of the estate sale of Edith Rockefeller McCormick, in the January 4, 1934 New York Times. It seems that the most valuable piece in the auction was luncheon set of Burano lace with medallions depicting the chateaux of the Loire. It sounds a lot like this set.

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