Piero di Cosimo, Portrait of Simonetta Vespucci as Cleopatra, Tempera painting on canvas

Piero di Cosimo, Portrait of Simonetta Vespucci as Cleopatra, Tempera painting on canvas. Copyright RMN-Grand Palais (Domaine de Chantilly) / René-Gabriel Ojéda

by Mary Skinner

Twenty miles north of Paris, the Domaine de Chantilly houses the Condé Museum with a painting collection that makes it second only to the world-famous Louvre Museum for paintings prior to 1850. Along with a significant art collection, the chateau features magnificent gardens, grand stables, and a world-class hippodrome. After major restoration projects on the building and the art in the collection, Condé Museum will host a special exhibition of fourteenth- and fifteenth-century Italian paintings entitled Fra Angelico, Botticelli…Rediscovered Masterpieces through January 4, 2015.

“Florentine and Sienese painters of the Quattrocento, formally known as the Italian Primitives, make up a significant part of the legacy of the Duke d’Aumale, conserved exclusively at the Domaine de Chantilly since his death,” says Nicole Garnier, head curator of the Condé Museum. Thirty major works from its collections will be on exhibit, including paintings and drawings by Fra Angelico, Lippi, Botticelli, and Leonardo da Vinci.

Many prominent members of the American Friends of Chantilly (AFC) are from Nashville, and for the past decade, AFC has been committed to designing and developing promotional, educational, and restoration projects to benefit the Domaine de Chantilly. Over the past year they have played an important role assisting the Condé Museum with the Fra Angelico, Botticelli…Rediscovered Masterpieces exhibition.

Portrait of Henri II (French monarch 1519–59) attributed to Francesco Primaticcio, Italian School, 16th Century. Copyright RMN-Grand Palais (Domaine de Chantilly) / René-Gabriel Ojéda
Portrait of Henri II (French monarch 1519–59) attributed to Francesco Primaticcio, Italian School, 16th Century. Copyright RMN-Grand Palais (Domaine de Chantilly) / René-Gabriel Ojéda

The organization is working alongside their French counterpart, Les Amis du Musée Condé (The French Friends of Condé Museum), to provide funding for the restoration of several additional paintings, such as the portrait of Henri II attributed to Francesco Primaticcio, an Italian Mannerist painter, architect, and sculptor who spent most of his career in France.

The Italian masterpiece Simonetta de Vespucci, by Renaissance painter Piero di Cosimo, is considered the crown jewel of the Condé Museum’s collection. Painted in the late fifteenth century, the tempura painting was in need of restoration. AFC underwrote the funds needed to send the piece to the Louvre for conservation. The newly restored painting will once again be on view.

To learn more about how you can help with conservation projects and to become a member of American Friends of Chantilly, visit www.afchantilly.org or contact Candice Nancel, president of AFC, at AFCeurope@orange.fr.

Painting Gallery, Condé Museum, France, 2014. Courtesy of Domaine de Chantilly

Painting Gallery, Condé Museum, France, 2014. Courtesy of Domaine de Chantilly

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