The historical apartments

published at 06/03/2017

The Ruggieri Room

The Ruggieri Room is so named because of a sign on the mantelpiece: the Greek letter delta –the initial of Diane– and three circles or three full moons.
This sculpture was initially interpreted as a cabalistic sign of Ruggieri, one of Queen Catherine de Medici’s astrologers, but it could also be an evocation of Diane de Poitiers, since Diane is the moon goddess in Roman mythology. A late 17th century bed with a suspended canopy, a 17th century portrait presumed to be Cosimo Ruggieri, and a cabinet with one drawer and apron and a drop leaf with a lock dated from the first quarter of the 17th century, complete the furniture in this room. This room has a polychrome fireplace from the 16th century – which reminds us that all the fireplaces were once painted – and walls built from both brick and stone according to a common technique at the turn of the 16th century.

The Catherine de Medici room

The Catherine de Medici room –formerly a ceremonial bedroom– boasts the oldest tapestry in the Château’s collections, woven in Tournai in the late 15th century (The Story of Perseus and Pegasus). Visitors can also admire the full- length portrait of Catherine de Medici (copy created in the 19th century), a late 16th century tapestry from the Manufacture des Flandres (The Story of David and Abigail) and a remarkable 19th century Henri II style bed elaborately carved with figures, mascaron ornaments, horns of plenty and garlands of bay leaves and fruit. The headboard is supported by semi-relief carved mermaids and topped with a female rider and a warrior forming the posts of the canopy bed. This room is also furnished with a 16th century throne depicting a heron swallowing an eel under an arch, below two unicorns in confrontation holding a shield, as well as a wardrobe close to the bed whose façade, which dates back to the 15th century, evokes iconography typical of this period ; on the upper part, the three theological virtues -faith, hope and charity- and the four seasons, and on the lower part, the five senses.

The council chamber

The council chamber harbours outstanding Majolica tiling from the 17th century that the de Broglie family brought back from the Collutio Palace in Palermo, Sicily. A 16th century table with pull-out leafs, a late 17th century chimney back from Château de Ménars (not far from Blois) and a painting of Diane de Poitiers (19th century) enhance the interior layout of this chamber.

Planets and Days Tapestries

As a masterpiece of late 16th century woven art, the Planets and Days Tapestries is once again on show at Château de Chaumont-sur-Loire, in the Council Chamber, after several years out of sight and one year under restoration in the workshops of the Royal Manufacturers De Wit in Belgium.

Acquired in 1889 by Prince and Princess Henri-Amédée de Broglie (the last private owners of Château de Chaumont-sur-Loire), this eight-tapestry wall hanging (of which there are only two copies in the world – this one at Chaumont-sur-Loire and the one at the Bavarian National Museum in Munich) was woven in the latter part of the 16th century (1570) in the studio of master heddle-setter Martin Reymbouts in Brussels. The tapestries have been assembled to grace the walls of the large room in the East Wing (Council Chamber) on the first floor of the Château.

The State decided to keep this tapestry collection in its original place when it acquired the estate from Princess de Broglie in 1938, and the work was listed as a Historical Monument the same year when the Château's first inventory was being carried out. The main theme running through these famous Planets and Days Tapestries is astrology. Each deity of Roman mythology – corresponding to a day of the week and a planet – is seated in a chariot symbolising the movement of the stars. One or more signs of the Zodiac feature in the wheels of the chariot, which is drawn by a real or imagined animal in connection with the deity.

Depicted along the bottom are activities placed under the influence of the deity or mythological or biblical scenes, taking place in wooded landscapes. Each piece is surrounded by thick borders decorated with grotesques and cartouches of historiated scenes with a bearing on the central composition. On the tapestries it is possible to make out Diana, Saturn, Apollo, Venus, Mars and a fragment of another tapestry from Martin Reymbouts' studio, The Wedding, as well as Mercury and Jupiter.

The guard room

The guard room, in the tower-flanked entrance is strategically located, as it lies above the Château porch. It contains a rare late 16th century safe weighing more than 250 kilos, a late 17th century tapestry depicting a scene in the life of Cimon (Athenian General), an array of Ottoman weaponry (mantelpiece) from the 19th century given to the de Broglie family by the Maharajah of Kapurthala, and three paintings (The Road to Calvary from the 17th century, Extreme Unction and The Resurrection in the neo-primitive style from the 19th century).

The King’s Room

The King’s Room, situated in the Western entrance tower, presents polychrome décor on the wooden panelling and ceiling that is historicist in style – all the rage in the Romantic era – dating back to 1830-1840. Documents and photographs documenting life in the Château in the time of the de Broglies are regularly exhibited in this room.

Also on display in this room are seventy medallions and eight moulds made in the 18th century by the Italian artist Jean-Baptiste Nini. He painted the portrait of a great many famous figures of his time (Louis XV, Louis XVI, Marie-Antoinette, Benjamin Franklin and all the members of the Le Ray family) as well as more modest townsfolk (doctor, solicitor, registrar). Today, this collection is recognised to be the world’s largest and most prestigious.

The spiral grand staircase

The spiral grand staircase reflects the progressive assimilation of the Italian style by French artists circa 1500: three-foiled Gothic motifs make way for Renaissance foliage and Italianising arabesques covering the column shafts. The windows are decorated with stained glass bearing heraldic motifs (coats of arms) representing the different families that have owned Chaumont.

This staircase leads up to many different unfurnished and newly reopened parts of the Château dedicated to contemporary art, including the former bedroom of Princess Henri-Amédée de Broglie, now an art gallery.