Published on May 11th, 2015 | by Maureen Youngblood0
Discovery of the Domaine de Chaumont-Sur-Loire
The springtime is the perfect time to visit Domaine de Chaumont-sur-Loire. From April 23rd until October, the International Garden Festival takes place on the grounds of the estate. Art installations by various contemporary artists are displayed in every garden of the park, which consists of 32 hectares (80 acres). Such installations include cast iron sculptures by Vincent Barre, stained glass windows by Sarkis, a forest of beams and bells by Janis Kounellis, and a tree pathway by Guiseppe Penone, to name a few. Other works of art by Patrick Dougherty, Gabriel Orozoco, and Tadashi Kawamata are also on display with new installations from approximately 15 different artists and photographers to be announced at the beginning of April.
Domaine de Chaumont-sur-Loire is between Tours and Blois, 200 km south of Paris. The original structure was built approximately in the year 1000 by Odo I, Count of Blois. In 1465, the chateau was completely destroyed by Louis XI; however, it was rebuilt shortly thereafter. The chateau was owned by the Amboise family for almost 500 years, but it was Charles II d’Amboise who transformed the structure into an ornamental chateau in the Renaissance style.
The estate was acquired by Catherine de Medici in 1550 and at the time was a profitable chateau. Visitors of that era included Ruggieri and Nostradamus. The property transitioned to Diane de Poitiers in 1560 (after the death of King Henri II) in exchange for Chateau de Chenonceau. It was Diane de Poitiers who managed the construction of the drawbridge and wall-walks at Domaine de Chaumont-sur-Loire. Interestingly, the tapestries that depicted country life in the area and hung in the chateau during the early 16th Century now hang in the Cleveland Museum of Art.
It was in the 1750’s that Jacques-Donatien Leray had the north wing destroyed in order to have a view of the Loire. It was also during this time that the Italian sculptor Jean-Baptiste Nini visited the estate. Currently there are many of his works on display inside the chateau.
In the late 1800’s, architect Paul-Ernest Sanson designed the stables to the estate, some of the grandest and most modern in the region at the time. Approximately 20 workers maintained the horses, carriages, and equipment, as the transition to motorcars was still in occurrence; horses and carriages remained very common. It was in 1884 that the creation of the estate grounds began to take a more regal form. Henri Duchene, considered one of the greatest French landscape artists of his time, began the planning and layout. The grounds were prepared in the English style of gardens that included a dog cemetery.
In 1938, Domaine de Chaumont-sur-Loire was ceded to the State by the Princess of Orleans and Bourbon. In 2007 the chateau and grounds became the property of the Centre Region, and since January 2008, it has been a Public Establishment of Cultural Cooperation.
Domaine de Chaumont-sur-Loire is not your typical chateau and grounds. The art instillations parallel the differences between ancient and modern, brick and water, stone and grass – between inanimate and living. The entire estate provides both the expected and the completely unexpected through the modern art installations that inhabit this historical site.
Sources: Chateau de Chaumont. Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ch%C3%A2teau_de_Chaumont
Domaine de Chaumont-sur-Loire. http://www.domaine-chaumont.fr/en_accueil?cat=1.