The Monkey Room

Monkey Room-Grand Apartments ©RMN
The Monkey Room is a charming boudoir, dated 1737 and previously credited to Watteau. It is entirely covered with Christophe Huet murals, and represents an incredible and overwhelming number of scenes that feature monkeys and Chinese maggots. In the eighteenth century, monkeys and Chinese maggots were extremely popular and are frequently found in the salons and decorums of private hotels or châteaux.
Monkey Room-Grand Apartments ©Béatrice Lécuyer-Bibal

This type of decor, with painting applied directly on the woodworks, takes off under the Regency, in the early part of Louis XV's reign, and followed the painted decors that Claude Audran created in Marly, from 1708-1709, for Louis XIV.

The iconographic program of the Monkey Room is complex. The painter seemingly continued his work for more than fifteen years after the completion of the woodworks, which are typical of the rococo period.

With its six large panels, three stable (double leaf) doors and ceiling, the Monkey Room is covered with allegories of Science and Art, especially that of War, Hunting, Painting, Sculpture, Geometry, Chemistry and other subjects, in which monkeys and Chinese cohabitate. On the panels located near the windows, humans serve monkeys; on the other side of the room, monkeys serve humans. This decor could also be seen as a representation of the Five Senses or even of the Four Parts of the World, thanks to key elements such as the four gray monochrome medallions placed on each side of the mirrors, featuring a crocodile, an elephant, a horse and a lion, symbols of the four known continents. The ceiling itself is a testament to the lords of Chantilly’s favorite occupation: hunting.

The anchor-shaped back, shell-shaped seat and reed-shaped feet of the chair, was designed in the late eighteenth century for the Duke of Penthièvre, Admiral of France and great-grandfather of the Duke of Aumale, to complete the navy-based decoration of his cottage of Rambouillet.

P.A. Gatier, Chief Architect of Historical Monuments, supervised the complete restoration of The Monkey Room in 2007, made possible by the Chantilly Foundation and the World Monument Fund.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monkey Room-detail-Grand Apartments ©Musée Condé
Monkey Room-Grand Apartments ©Béatrice Lécuyer-Bibal