Château de Villette : The Splendor of French Decor
Text by Guillaume Picon, Photographed by Bruno Ehrs
This intimate tour provides a lesson from Jacques Garcia in the art and technique of historic house and garden restoration.
The Château de Villette, situated in a lush woodlandnear Paris, has been an oasis of art and beauty sinceits construction (1663–69) according to François Mansart’s plans. Among its prestigious ownerswas Sophie de Grouchy, wife of the Marquis de Condorcet. As leading political actors of their era,she and her husband hosted some of the most intellectuallyinfluential salons of the prerevolutionaryperiod for an international elite that included Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Paine. The Marquis de Lafayette was a witness at the couple’swedding at Villette in 1786. New owners have commissioned Jacques Garcia to restore the house and gardens to their idyllic former glory. Presented here for the first time, the result is averitable museum of French craftsmanship, with interiors featuring fabulous silks and passementeries, as well as eighteenth-century paintings, decorative arts,and furniture. The original stone features and elegant trumeaux and boiseries of the château’s historic dining room have been restored to their initial splendor.Villette’s austerely elegant facade houses an octagonal grand salon that gives way to magical vistas of formal gardens inspired by Le Nôtre, cascading fountains,reflecting pools, and eighteenth-century sculptures,sphinxes, and an obelisk, alluding to classical artistic traditions and eighteenth-century aesthetics. All-new photography, along with drawings by architectural historians Bernd Dams and Andrew Zega, illustrate this lavish volume.
About The Author
Historian Guillaume Picon wrote several books including Versailles: A Private Invitation. Bruno Ehrs’s photographs have appeared in many books including A Day at Château de Vaux le Vicomte. Bernd H. Dams and Andrew Zega create watercolors of historic buildings and garden ornaments.