Friday, 3 April 2015

Château de Clagny

The Clagny-estate belonged to the Hôpital des Incurables until 1665 when Louis XIV bought it. The King intended to use it as a retreat for his mistress, Madame de Montespan, who was only too eager to commence the building project. So, work began in June that same year.

André Le Nôtre designed the gardens while the château itself was the work of Jules Hardouin-Mansart. Conveniently, the new château was located quite near Versailles itself which permitted the royal mistress to spend her days at court and her evenings at home. A large work force was needed to complete the château in time to meet the favourite's demands and suggestions range from 22.000-36.000 workers! The total sum: 17.000.000 livres.

When Madame de Montespan lost her favour with the King she stopped visiting their former retreat. Louis XIV decided to finally grant it to her in 1685 though the courtiers mused that it was mostly for the sake of his illegitimate son, the Duc du Maine whom he loved dearly.

Even though Madame de Montespan never went back to Clagny after retiring to a convent in 1692 it was still her property. So it remained until her death in 1707 when her son, the Duc du Maine, inherited it. In turn the Duc du Maine would leave Clagny for his grandson, the Princes des Dombes. In 1766 it reverted to the crown but by then it had not been in use for a while and was severely neglected.

Louis XV, who understandably had no ties to Madame de Montespan nor her son for that matter, gave 11 hectares to Marie Lescszynska who built a convent on the grounds. Since there was no more use for the old love nest it was finally demolished in 1769.

How it would have looked

Ground floor
Plans (drawings), Chateau de Clagny
First floor
A virtual reconstruction
View from the front

Cross-section of the château
Cross-section from 1678

Plan of the castle grounds
Engraving of the château from the garden side
Allegorical portrait of Madame de Montespan at Clagny

This epic portrait of Madame de Montespan gives us a peak into
the hall of Clagny

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