Theatre library

Theatre library - Château of Chantilly © Béatrice Lécuyer-Bibal
This second library was built for the Duke of Aumale in the 1880s by his architect, Honoré Daumet. Its two-level gallery metal structure was inspired by the architecture of Henri Labrouste for the shops of the National Library in Paris. The library was built on the location of a former private theatre built in the early nineteenth century for the Bourbon-Condé family, hence its name.
Theatre library 2 (c) André Pelle

In the early nineteenth century, this room was used as a theatre by the Condé family, in lieu of the one destroyed during the Revolution, which was below the Jeu de Paume. The stage was in the back of the room, behind the current shelving; the parterre was at a lower level, and the balconies in the area now accessible to the public.

It contains approximately 27,000 books, primarily from the nineteenth century, which formed the study library of the Duke of Aumale, in addition to the Books Cabinet, where we keep the oldest and most valuable books.


It is composed of the Duke's study collections, meaning his contemporary books: historical and literary books, as well as part of the public sale catalogs the Duke used to receive. To the left of the main door, you will find a newspaper published in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries: the Mercure de France was a kind of gazette that featured all significant events taking place in the kingdom. A few steps away, some guide books of Paris and the Ile-de-France from the eighteenth century. On the right, lies the revolutionary Theatre Collection, mainly constituted of gray literature, non-official pamphlets about the nobility of the time, as well as all the great figures of the Revolution, that were usually distributed clandestinely.


At the center of the library, in its lower part, the large and central furniture piece contains the Drawing Cabinet of Chantilly. Originally, in the time of the Duke of Aumale, the drawings were located in the Salon of Orléans, on the first floor. But the theatre library connects to the reading room, and it became apparent that a reading room adjacent to a drawings room made more sense. The change was implemented over the course of the twentieth century.


The Condé Museum of Chantilly harbors 2,500 drawings and 2,500 engravings. It is one of the most important drawings Cabinets of France in view of the quality of its collections: Raphael, Michelangelo, Primatice, Parmesan, Jean and François Clouet, Nicolas Poussin, Claude Lorrain, Eustache Le Sueur, Watteau, Oudry, Boucher, Ingres, Delacroix.

Theatre library (c) André Pelle
Theatre library 3 (c) André Pelle

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