Wing of the Deer Gallery, Palace of Fontainebleau, Seine-et-Marne, France

The construction of the Château de Fontainebleau and its successive expansions bear witness to the passion of the kings of France for hunting and their need to have a prestigious setting to accommodate the Court and their distinguished guests for stays devoted to their favorite leisure activity. The Deer Gallery and the Hunting Apartment, through the representation of the large hunting estates under Henry IV and the hunts of Louis XV, painted by Oudry, illustrate the decorations of the castle on the theme of hunting.

The Chasses apartment (also known as the “Prince Imperial apartment” from 1856 to 1868) overlooks the Oval courtyard and forms a link with the Diana gallery. The Queen’s staircase and the Hunting apartment, where the Imperial Prince stayed, have displayed since 1835 the large cartoons of the tapestries of the so-called Hunting hangings of Louis XV, painted by J. B. Oudry. Eight of the nine compositions by this artist are presented there.

Deer Gallery
The Galerie des Cerfs dates from the beginning of the 17th century and was restored during the Second Empire: it had been divided into apartments in the 18th century and had served under Napoleon I as apartments for the brothers and sisters of the Emperor. It is 74 meters long and 7 meters wide. Located on the ground floor, it owes its name to the 43 deer heads (only the antlers are natural, the heads are in plaster and the eyes are in glass) which decorate it, installed in 1642 (they were all redone in the 19th century). It is notably decorated with oil paintings on plaster produced between 1601 and 1608 by Louis Poisson, redone under Napoleon III and presenting 13 cavalier views of the great royal residences under Henri IV (Saint-Germain-en-Laye, Chambord, Amboise, Villers-Cotterêts…). These cards have frames imitating stucco, with cartridges with leather motifs and painted landscapes in monochrome. The ceiling is decorated with hunting motifs made around 1639-1640.

The gallery also preserves the original fonts of copies of ancient statues executed by the Primaticios in 1540. These statues were brought from the Louvre in 1967. Copies of Laocoon and his children, The Venus of Cnidus, the The Apollo of Belvedere, the Hercules Commodus, and the Sleeping Ariadne, but also the Diana with the Doe, an antique copy executed in 1602 by Barthélémy Prieur, which previously adorned Diana’s garden. This gallery was the scene of the assassination of Giovanni, Marquis of Monaldeschi, favorite of Christina of Sweden, on November 10, 1657. Heavily remodeled under the Second Empire from modifications at the beginning of the 19th century, the gallery underwent partial restoration under the aegis of the artists Pacard and Denuelle, who notably undertook to replace the wooden paneling of the lower part of the walls, which was badly damaged, with a decor identically imitating the painted paneling of the Saint-Saturnin chapel.

Diane’s Gallery
This golden gallery, formerly called the “queen’s gallery” (it connected the queen’s apartments and the aviary cabinet), 80 m long and approximately 10 m wide, was first decorated with scenes illustrating the myth of Diana, that of Apollo, and the victories of the king, by Ambroise Dubois and Jean de Hoey, on the wooden attics of the walls and the ceiling of the broken vault. Its ancient decor is known to us in particular thanks to a rich watercolor album by Percier, and fragments of paintings and paneling, preserved today at the castle.

Hunting Apartment
Built under Henri IV, but enlarged in the 18th and 19th centuries, this part of the castle housed three apartments in a row. The term Hunting Apartment was reserved, under the Restoration, for the rooms located on the first floor of the wing, but was extended to the ground floor when new decorations were created during the reign of Louis-Philippe. The ground floor was inhabited by Empress Eugénie, who had it restored from 1861.

A grand staircase, built in 1768 on the site of an old 16th century staircase, is decorated under Louis-Philippe with paintings by Alexandre-François Desportes and Jean-Baptiste Oudry representing hunting scenes and still lifes. The living room is decorated with vast paintings by Jean-Baptiste Oudry (Hunting of Louis in 1835) illustrating the royal hunts in the forest of Compiègne. The room is also decorated with hunting scenes from Compiègne and Fontainebleau. It is notably furnished with the Prince Imperial’s bed and nightstand, delivered in 1864.

The apartments were inhabited by Cardinal Barberini in 1625, by Mazarin during the regency of Anne of Austria, and by the Duke and Duchess of Orléans under Louis XIV. They were occupied by Cardinal de Fleury in 1743, by Mesdames de Lauraguais and de Flavacourt in 1744, by Marie-Thérèse-Raphaëlle of Spain in 1745, by Marie Leszczynska in 1746, and by Madame Élisabeth, Duchess of Parma, in 1749 They were inhabited by Marie-Josèphe de Saxe from 1747 to 1767, then by Marshal d’Estrées and the Countess of Coigny in 1767, and by Christian VII of Denmark in 1768. They were occupied again in 1773, at the upstairs by the Countess of Artois, and on the ground floor by the Dauphin Louis, then by the Count of Artois.

Under the Empire, the apartments welcomed Baron de Dalberg in 1804, and Marie-Julie Clary in 1807. They were occupied by the Duke of Bourbon, then by the Duke of Angoulême under the Restoration. During the July Monarchy, they were inhabited by the Duke of Orléans, and by the Dukes of Aumale and Montpensier from 1833. In May 1837, they received Augusta of Hesse-Hombourg and Hélène of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, before to house in 1838 the Duke of Württemberg, his wife Marie, and his son. They finally received the Duchess of Kent in 1844, the Prince and Princess of Joinville in 1845, and the Prince and Princess of Salerno in 1846. Under the Second Empire, they welcomed Lucien Bonaparte and Princess Murat in 1853, and were busy by Prince Imperial from 1856 to 1868.

The Queen’s staircase and the Hunting apartment, where the Imperial Prince stayed, have displayed since 1835 the large cartoons of the tapestries of the so-called Hunting hangings of Louis XV, painted by J. B. Oudry. Eight of the nine compositions by this artist are presented there. The execution of J.B. Oudry’s order took place from 1733 to 1746. It was to serve as models for tapestries woven at the Gobelins factory. A hanging decorated the king’s apartments in Compiègne, another hunting residence of Louis XV. His grandson, Louis XVI had miniatures of these same compositions made for Versailles.

Abandoned in 1870, the hunting apartments were reopened to visitors in 1938, as the apartment of Louis Bonaparte, before being closed again at the end of the 1960s. A recent project, led by Yves Carlier, curator in chef, made it possible to open a “furniture gallery”, bringing together nearly 80 objects.

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Château de Fontainebleau
Fontainebleau is a lovely historic town 55.5 km south of Paris, France. It is renowned for its large and scenic forest that surrounds one almighty château, once a hunting lodge beloved of the kings of France. Built in the 12th century, this chateau is also a fabulous relic of French history, from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance. Over nearly eight centuries, 34 emperors and two monarchs spent time in the estate, inscribed on the Unesco World Heritage list since 1981.

The Château de Fontainebleau enlarged in particular by François I, the residence of Fontainebleau is the only château that was lived in by every French monarch for more than eight centuries. With 1500 rooms, it is one of the biggest châteaux in France, and the most furnished in Europe. Testimony to the life of the official and initimate courts of the monarchs across the centuries, it embodies better than anywhere else the French ‘art de vivre’.

Surrounded by a vast park and neighboring the Fontainebleau forest, the castle is made up of elements of medieval, Renaissance, and classical styles. The overall effect is awe as successive monarchs added their own personal touches. Fontainebleau is an inspiring place, full of rich details. The most furnished chateau with the decor like Renaissance frescoes, precious porcelain, exceptional furniture through the Second Empire. A stroll in the sprawling gardens and along the canal designed by architect André Le Nôtre is a must.

It bears witness to the meeting between Italian art and French tradition expressed both in its architecture and in its interior decorations. This specificity is explained by the desire of François I to create in Fontainebleau a “new Rome ” in which Italian artists come to express their talent and influence French art. This is how the School of Fontainebleau was born, which represents the richest period of Renaissance art in France, and inspired French painting until the middle of the 17th century, and even beyond.

Famous for witnessing many of the emperor’s important turning points, “The true home of kings, the house of ages,” Napoleon once said about this vast castle built in the Classical and Renaissance styles. Napoleon had locked up the pope of the time there for a long time, Napoleon also signed his first declaration of abdication here Appreciate the double-horseshoe staircase in the main courtyard, the Cour d’Honneur, also known as the Farewell Courtyard, after Napoleon bade farewell there on 20 April 1814, before leaving for the Island of Elba.

Fontainebleau is not only famous for its part in Napoleon’s imperial adventures. Discover the Renaissance masterpieces commissioned by François I, the major projects of Henri IV, the refined decoration of Marie Antoinette, Napoleon I’s apartment, the splendour of Napoleon III and Eugenie, etc. Head toward the west wing, where you’ll find the Renaissance rooms and the Galerie de François Ier lavishly decorated by Rosso Florentino, a master of the School of Fontainebleau. Admire the dramatic chimney in the Guard Room, the original Saint-Saturnin Chapel, and Napoléon’s luxurious Throne Room.

Discover the Chinese Museum created by Empress Eugénie, and its precious antiques originating from China and Thailand. Explore rooms normally off-limits to the general public, like the luxurious theater created under Napoleon III in 1857, similar in its refined style to that of the Chateau de Versailles. There is also Marie-Antoinette’s Turkish boudoir, with its fabulous Oriental exuberance.

Situated in a park of 130 hectares, the château spreads its architecture around four main courtyards and is at the heart of three historic gardens including the largest parterre in Europe (11 hectares), the work of André Le Nôtre. Go boating on the Carp Pond, admire the Grand Parterre, also known as the French Garden, designed by Le Nôtre and Le Vau, or take a walk in the English Garden. The botanical and architectural imprint of each monarch promises a truly royal stroll in the park.

Rich in a first-rate architectural setting, the Château de Fontainebleau also has one of the most important collections of ancient furniture in France, and preserves an exceptional collection of paintings, sculptures, and art objects, dating from the 6th century in the nineteenth century. A favourite weekend getaway for Parisians, which gives a remarkable quality of air and life in the Paris region.

A little train and carriage rides are available for a fun jaunt around the grounds with the family, while initiations at hot air ballooning will soaring over the chateau and the Fontainebleau forest, one of the largest forests in the region. Take a break at the Café des Mariniers on the Cour de la Fontaine is well deserved. Appreciate a stop at the restaurant Les Petites Bouches de l’Empereur located in the heart of the château, in the wing known as the “belle Cheminée”, a stone’s throw from the Porte Dorée decorated by Primaticcio.

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