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The Duchesse de Berry and the Aesthetics of Royalism: Dynastic Collecting in Nineteenth-Century France

Philip Mansel

Philip Mansel, "The Duchesse de Berry and the Aesthetics of Royalism: Dynastic Collecting in Nineteenth-Century France", dans Women Patrons and Collectors, edited by Susan Bracken, Andrea M. Galdy and Adriana Turpin, Cambridge Scholars Publishing (2012), ISBN 978-1443834643, p. 139-152. Article réédité sur Cour de France.fr le 1er novembre 2013 (https://cour-de-france.fr/article2922.html).

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Marie Caroline Duchesse de Berry asserted her politics and her personality not only through her charities, her entertainments, and her attempted uprisings against Louis-Philippe in 1832, but also through her collections. She has been called both “la Marie Stuart de la Vendée” and “the Queen of the Troubadour style”. Who was she?

The Collector

Marie Caroline, princess of the Two Sicilies, was born in the palace of Caserta on 5 November 1798. A grand-daughter of King Ferdinand IV of Naples (after 1816 Ferdinand I of the Two Sicilies), she spent most of her youth in Palermo, during the royal family’s retreats to Sicily in 1799-1800 and 1806-16, caused by the French occupations of Naples. In the capella palatina of Palermo, and later in Notre Dame de Paris on 17 June 1816, she was married to her cousin, a nephew of Louis XVIII, Charles Ferdinand Duc de Berry. He was heir to the throne of France, as his elder brother the Duc d’Angouleme showed no signs of producing children. The Berrys’ first duty was to do so. In the meantime one of their occupations was to expand the picture collection begun by the Duke in London. Like many Frenchmen, Berry had his cultural horizons broadened by emigration. Living on a British pension, he had frequented sale rooms and Colnaghi’s, buying works by Wouvermans

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among others [1].
Collecting reflected the competitive dynasticism which, as well as nationalism, revolution, and class conflicts, shaped nineteenth-century France. Because they were competing to win or secure the throne, iand needed popularity, the three rival dynasties, Bourbons, Orleans and Bonapartes had to be more active in the arts, as well as in other public spheres. Their patronage took took two forms.. First all like their fellow monarchs in Saint Petersburg Vienna and Berlin, who were gradually transforming their dynastic collections into national museums, French monarchs took a personal interest in expanding and improving the national (then called imperial or royal, depending on the dynasty in power) collections in the Louvre and Versailles, with the help of their respective artistic advisers – Baron Denon under the Empire, the comte de Forbin under the Restoration, the comte de Nieuwerkerke under the Second Empire. In response to this massive monarchical patronage, many of the most famous painters of the age – including David (Premier peintre de l’Empereur), Ingres, baron Gerard (Premier peintre du roi), Isabey (Dessinateur de la chambre under both the Empire and the Restoration), Horace Vernet, Prud’hon, and Ary Scheffer - were also court painters, painting dynastic portraits and historical events.
Second, each dynasty also had members who, helped by the generous annual incomes all received from the civil lists of the period, and peerhapsencouraged by the reigning monarch of the day, made large private collections. During the Empire the Empress Josephine’s taste for historical subjects and Redouté flower paintings anticipated that of the Duc and Duchesse de Berry. In all she owned 362 pictures, some of which can be admired in her chateau of Malmaison today [2]. A shared artistic influence was her chamberlain Count Lancelot Turpin de Crissé, who later painted views of Naples for the Duchesse de Berry, and of Paris for the Duc de Bordeaux. Napoleon I’s brother Lucien made an impressive collection of paintings, while his half-uncle Cardinal Fesch accumulated the phenomenal total of 16,000 pictures, in the course of his career as Grand Aumonier and Archbishop of Lyon, and later during his exile in Rome. Most were sold after his death; some are now in the Musée Fesch in Ajaccio [3].
In accordance with Orléans family tradition (before its sale in London in th 1790’s the picture gallery of the Orleans’ palace the Palais Royal had been one of the most famous in Paris), both as Duc d’Orléans and King of the French, Louis-Philippe made a collection of pictures, French and Spanish [4]. They included the Horace Vernet scenes of the battles of Valmy and

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Jemappes, in which Louis-Philippe had fought for the first Republic, now in the National Gallery in London. He also founded the French national portrait collection, the Musée de l’Histoire de France, which opened in the chateau de Versailles in 1837.
The Duc and Duchesse de Berry were the principal collectors of the elder branch of the Bourbons. . Their collection reflects not only the competing dynasticism of the period but also their personal taste, and the aesthetics of royalism. Like all official patrons of the Restoration, the Duc and Duchesse de Berry tried to appropriate or celebrate the Bourbon past, in particular the patron of the French Restoration, Henri IV. Henri IV was the warrior king who fought his way to the throne in 1589-1596, reconciled Frenchmen after horrific civil conflicts, and died under an assassin’s knife in 1610. Already there had been a revival of interest in this popular royal hero in the eighteenth century and under the Empire: the Empress Josephine had hung pictures of Henri IV in her gallery at Malmaison. After 1814 parallels with the restored Bourbons, who had also come to the throne after years of conflict, increased his appeal. The Duc and Duchesse de Berry bought a picture by Revoil of Henri IV playing with his children in front of the Spanish ambassador, another by Crépin of Henri IV’s former minister the Duc de Sully, showing his grandson the monument containing the heart of his murdered master.
In addition they acquired a version of Baron Gérard’s Entry of Henri IV into Paris, the triumph of the salon of 1817. Commissioned by Louis XVIII from his Premier Peintre Baron Gérard, it was a pictorial expression of the hopes and fears of the Restoration. The painting shows rebels, like former revolutionaries and Bonapartists – such as Gérard himself - being granted pardon as foreign troops leave Paris – an echo of the situation in France in 1817. Anticipating the 1820 picture by Alexandre Menjaud showing Berry’s death-bed agony, witnessed by his illegitimate children by his English mistress Amy Brown, the King’s mistress and illegitimate children are shown in the corner: the Bourbons were no prudes. Berry also began to buy modern French pictures such as, in a gesture to French nationalism, two battle scenes, Le Trompette mort and Le chien du régiment by the Bonapartist Horace Vernet, both now in the Wallace Collection. They were among the nineteen pictures he purchased at the salon in 1819 [5]. As well as reflecting their love of the arts, the Berrys’ collection had a political purpose, to popularise the Restoration.
Before his wife’s eyes on 13 February 1820, however, the Duc de Berry

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was fataly stabbed to death by a Bonapartist fanatic called Louvel, outside the Paris opera. During his long death-bed agony in an antechamber of the Paris opera, the groans of the dying prince mingled with the sounds of the opera-singers, as the royal family and the ministers gathered round the death-bed. ‘Killed on the field of battle’, said Paris wits, referring to Berry’s many affairs with opera-singers.
Eight months later his widow did her dynastic duty, by bearing a son, the Duc de Bordeaux. Her courage and originality are revealed by a scene at the birth on 29 September 1820. As leader of the Bonapartists in Paris, Maréchal Suchet had been chosen to be one of the witnesses to the birth, with a former émigré the Maréchal de Coigny. In the corrosive distrust prevailing in Paris, only a Bonapartist could be trusted to guarantee the veracity of a Bourbon birth. The birth was so rapid that the Duchess could barely keep the umbilical cord attached to the child long enough for Suchet to see it with his own eyes. According to the British ambassador Sir Charles Stuart, with the words Prenez, Mr. le Maréchal! Tirez! the Princess urged the Marshal to pull on her cord himself: “Upon the Marshal showing some repugnance to do so, she repeated Mais tirez donc, Mr. le Maréchal!” [6]
Despite this incontrovertible evidence, the venom of party passions and personal ambitions led the Bourbons’ liberal cousins the Duc and Duchesse d’Orléans, whose place in the order of succession had been diminished by Bordeaux’s birth, to spread doubts about it in the pages of the Duchess’s journal. Royalists, however, hailed him as l’enfant du miracle, Henri Dieudonné. The regime seemed assured [7].
The marriage of the Duc and Duchesse de Berry had been exceptionally happy. To commemorate her murdered husband, on his saint’s day the feast of Saint Charles, on 4 November 1820, the Duchesse founded the elegant neoclassical Hospice Saint Charles at Rosny beside her chateau of Rosny in Normandy, formerly owned by the minister of Henri IV the Duc de Sully. The architect was the Swiss Joseph Antoine Froelicher [8]. Underneath the chapel altar, she buried Berry’s heart, his blood-stained clothes and a copy of Chateaubriand’s panegyric, Memoires historiques sur le Duc de Berry, bound in black leather, of which all witnesses of the murder had been given a copy [9]. Thereafter, with an income of 1.500,000 francs a year from the civil list- about £75,000,

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over twice what Prince Albert would obtain in the United Kingdom in 1840- the widowed Duchesse de Berry was a leader of taste, fashion and entertainment in Paris until the revolution of 1830. In order to keep her out of politics, fulfill a traditional royal function and make Paris tradesmen happy, both Louis XVIII and Charles X were happy for her to devote her time and her income to the arts. With the possible exception of Marie Antoinette (who owned far fewer pictures), she would be more active as a patron of the arts than any woman of the French Royal Family since Anne of Austria.

The Collection

The curator of her collection was another émigré the Chevalier Bonnemaison. To advertise his patron’s taste and status, in 1822 he published a catalogue in which he hailed the Duc de Berry as ‘le protecteur des artistes’. He dedicated it:

A SON ALTESSE ROYALE MADAME LA DUCHESSE DE BERRY. MADAME, C’est à VOTRE ALTESSE ROYALE qu’est due l’heureuse pensée de multiplier et de faire connaitre plus généralement par la lithographie les productions remarquables des peintres de genre de l’école actuelle…. Le très humble et très obéissant serviteur, Le cher BONNEMAISON. [10]

After her husband’s murder the Duchesse de Berry had moved to the Tuileries palace. While the Dutch old masters liked by her husband stayed in their previous residence the Elysée, she continued his project of making a modern French collection. Other contemporary collections, for example those of the Duke of Hamilton, the Marquess of Hertford or the Rothschilds, represent attempts to appropriate the past for self- aggrandizement in the present. They asserted their status by the purchase of objects with royal provenances. The Bourbons’ dynastic rivals the Bonapartes and the Orleans preferred pictures showing national scenes, of battles and heroic deeds [11]. The collection of the Duchesse de Berry reflected the aesthetics of royalism, as well as her personal taste. It concentrated on family life, good works and provincial landscapes. The reasons for these aesthetic choices were in part political. The family and the provinces were two bases of the restored Bourbon monarchy. It tried to heal, through charities, family life and the provinces, the wounds inflicted

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by revolution, nationalism and Paris.
Indeed the first city to declare for Louis XVIII, on 12 March 1814, while Napoleon I was still in control of Paris, had been a provincial city, Bordeaux – hence the Duchesse de Berry’s son’s title of Duc de Bordeaux. Throughout the 1820’s she made official tours of the provinces, often with a charitable purpose (visits to churches, hospitals, and memorials), accompanied by members of her household: there is still lan Hopital Caroline in marseille today [12]. She regularly summered in Dieppe,a sea-side resort which she helped to make fashionable. She also spent months at her chateau of Rosny. It was packed with books and pictures, and had a garden filled with rare plants and animals including giraffes [13]. Both Dieppe and Rosny represented new departures. They were in Normandy, outside the gilded circle of the Bourbons’ traditional residences in the Ile de France.

Illustrations :
1. Portrait of the Duchesse de Berri, c. 1825, print by M. Delpech from a portrait by Robert Lefevre, Philip Mansel collection.
2. James Pradier, The Duchesse de Berri with her two Children, Mademoiselle et le duc de Bordeaux, c. 1825, Philip Mansel collection

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Family Life

The 1821 portrait by Louis Hersent, formerly in her collection, of her two children Bordeaux and his elder sister Louise later Duchess of Parma, is in complete contrast to Gérard’s portrait of the young king of Rome – and to portraits of Marie-Antoinette’s children, by Madame Vigee-Lebrun and Adam Wertmuller. Showing the prince in his cradle, watched by his sister, it is domestic and familial. As the entry in the catalogue of her collection boasted, there are no signs of grandeur, no trace of militarism. In contrast to portraits of Marie Antoinette with her children, the mother is not represented. The focus is on the children.
For every historical picture, such as Taunay’s La mort de Bayard, Destouches’s Marie Stuart à Lochleven or Revoil’s Henri IV with his children, we find many more scenes of contemporary domesticity. The present predominates over the past. Here is a list of some of the pictures the Berrys bought before 1822. Many represent women and children:

La chambre des petits savoyards by M. Bonnefond;
Une scene des boulevards and L’entree du Theatre de l’Ambigu Comique by M. Boilly;
Martin Drolling Maison à vendre and Interieur d’une salle à manger;
M.Danloux’s Le petit gourmand and La petite boudeuse;
Mlle Gerard Une mère de famille entourée de ses enfants and L’heureuse mère;
Une distribution d’aumones by M. Taunay;
A Scheffer La bonne vieille;
M. Destouches Une jeune dame visitant son père en prison;
Louis Hersent Louis XVI distribuant ses bienfaits aux pauvres.
M. Duval Camus Les Freres de la doctrine chretienne

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Illustration : Madame Auzou, Une des croisées de Paris le jour de l’arrivée de S. M. Louis XVIII (1814). Like Pradier and many other contemporary painters, also tried to link French family feelings to the restored Bourbons.

Directly linking the family and the restoration, Madame Auzou’s Une des croisées de Paris le jour de l’arrivée de S.M. Louis XVIII (1814) is one of the most political of the Berrys’ pictures. A young and beautiful mother, surrounded by her children, is shown returning to health after a long illness with ‘a smile of happiness on her colourless lips’, as she watches the entry into Paris on 3 May 1814 of Louis XVIII, the king who ‘has given the Charte to his peoples and commanded them to forget hatreds and sufferings’. Pictures, by Mlle Gerard, Bonnefond, Danloux

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(another royalist émigré who had exhibited at the Royal Academy in London) and many others also concentrate on family life and children: for example La Bonne Mere by M. Genod, showing a mother feeding her daughter; Une famille malheureuse by Prud’hon portrays a family facing poverty as the father is mortally ill [14]. The family was the basis of royalism: blessed by the church, it was naturally opposed to the revolution’s wars and legalisation of divorce. Children were believed to be less corrupt, therefore more loyal, than adults. A favourite song of the period, taken from a play by Colle, La partie de chasse d’Henri IV, was called ‘Ou peut-on etre mieux, qu’au sein de sa famille?’
Yet the collection was not escapist. Scenes of prison, poverty and illness also hung on the Duchesse de Berry’s walls. The collection was also full of views - of Rosny, Italy, Switzerland and Greece. Paris was not excluded. Pictures by Boilly of the boulevards and the theatre of the Ambigu-Comique are a tribute to the Bourbons’ post-revolutionary reengagement with Paris. The Duchesse de Berry lived there for half the year and made the capital the centre of her entertainments.
The subscribers’ list to the printed catalogue of the collection confirms the European character of Restoration Paris. It includes names like Galignani the European bookseller in Paris, happily still with us; the great printer Didot; bankers like Casimir Perier and two barons de Rothschild; Talleyrand; the publisher Treuttel and Wurtz; Pugin and Liszt; booksellers in Paris, Brussels, Rotterdam, Saint Petersburg, Berlin and Warsaw; the Earls of Essex and Yarmouth, the Dukes of Wellington and Bedford; the King and Queen of the Two Sicilies and the Empress Mother of Russia [15].

The Patron

How much the Duchesse de Berry was involved in particular decisions to buy or commission is unknown. But she loved pictures at least as much as her husband. She had a drawing-master from Piedmont, the Chevalier Storelli and herself frequently painted views of Rosny and Dieppe. Contemporaries were impressed; even the acid Orleanist Madame de Boigne remarked on the intelligent tact with which she talked to artists [16]. She also visited the great flower painter Redouté in his atelier, bought the originals of his drawings of roses, became one of his pupils and helped him get a job at the Muséum d’histoire naturelle; he dedicated his Album

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des roses, one of which is named after her, to the Duchess in 1825.
The Duchesse de Berry’s collecting was not restricted to paintings. She loved books, particularly the novels of Walter Scott and the plays of Victor Hugo. The bindings of the books in her library, one of the most admired of the day, are masterpieces from the golden age of French book-binding: a black mourning binding decorates Chateaubriand’s tribute to her husband. All bindings bear her coat of arms, pairing Berry and the Two Sicilies [17]. Books too reveal the aesthetics of royalism, in this case hyper-sacralisation of the dynasty. In Hugo’s early royalist poems he compared the duchess to the Virgin Mary and the birth of the Duc de Bordeaux to that of Jesus Christ: both were saviours of the world. She helped him get a pension and watched his daring Romantic play Hernani.
Her Bal Marie Stuart in the Tuileries on 2 March 1829 was a Franco-British celebration, commemorating in the spirit of Walter Scott an imaginary visit of Marie de Guise (represented by the wife of the British ambassador, Lady Stuart de Rothesay) to her daughter Mary Queen of Scots (the Duchesse de Berry herself) and Francois II (the Duc de Chartres, son of the Duc d’Orleans) in France. Guests went to the royal library in search of accurate illustrations on which to base their magnificent 1560 historical costumes [18]. Contemporaries write that the Duchess at parties was in extraordinarily high spirits. “Balls are starting, above all at court; the Duchesse de Berry loves them and is inexhaustible”, wrote the comte de Castellane. Thanks to her the Bourbon court again became a social and artistic magnet [19].
She was as avant-garde in taste as she was reactionary in politics. Operas were dedicated to her. She helped to popularise the music of Beethoven in Paris and to launch the career of Eugene Scribe, the most popular French dramatist of the nineteenth century. His plays, such as Avant, Pendant et Après about the French revolution and its consequences, were performed in a theatre called, after her, le Theatre de Madame. Fascinated by dress, she also patronised a new fashion magazine called La Mode, edited by Emile de Girardin, which published early articles by Balzac and George Sand [20].
Her collecting, or desire to accumulate, was multi-dimensional, as befitted a princess, confident of her rank and importance, who read, drew and sang with equal energy. In addition to books and pictures, she also

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collected ivory, porcelain , miniatures, musical scores and elegant Restoration furniture in light-woods, which can be seen in a famous drawing by Auguste Garneray of her apartment in the Tuileries. She led and formed taste [21]. Her collection of musical scores included operas by Rossini, Bellini and Donizetti [22]. Part of her collections of stones, agates, shells, fossils and geological specimens was housed in a twelve-drawer birch and ebonised cabinet: she is also said to have owned 1,400 stuffed animals [23].

The July Revolution and the Collection’s Dispersion

The revolution of July 1830 occurred, just after a visit by her father Francis I King of the Two Sicilies to Paris. Parisians had rioted in the garden of the Palais Royal as guests danced in the state apartment above, at a ball given by Louis-Philippe, Duc d’Orléans in honour of his brother-in-law. “C’est une fete toute napolitaine, Monseigneur”, Narcisse de Salvandy whispered to Orleans: “we are dancing on a volcano”. Her only criticism of the coup by her father-in-law Charles X, attempting to restrict the freedoms given by the Charte, was its feebleness of execution. The best French troops were away fighting in Algiers. Fighting in defence of the Charte, Parisians defeated the Royal Guard [24].
The July revolution was a harsh awakening. It showed that, despite the Bourbons’ dedication to good works and the provinces, most of France followed the leadership of Paris, and wanted a liberal constitution. The royal family departed into an exile which proved definitive. To their disgust their cousin the Duc d’Orléans ascended the throne as Louis Philippe, King of the French. His son the Duc de Chartres, the Duchess’s dancing partner in 1829, became Prince Royal. Both royalists and their enemies agreed that the Restoration had been “une comédie courtisanesque de quinze ans”.
Like the Empress Marie-Louise, who moved her collection to her Duchy of Parma after 1814, after 1830 the Duchesse de Berry was able to move the bulk of her collection outside France, since it belonged to her and not to the Crown. Books, paintings, furniture left Rosny, the Tuileries and the Elysee for her massive eighteenth-century castle of Brunnsee outside Graz in Austria, where she lived after 1835,. In a further sign of the close connections between pen and sword in French history, two of her favourite

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writers continued to write on her behalf. For Chateaubriand, she was the only Bourbon with a strong character. He wrote legitimist pamphlets in favour of ‘Henri V’ (the Duc de Bordeaux) and his mother, often ending with the cry “Madame, votre fils est mon roi!” He also acted as her agent in her negotiations with the royal family, after the failure of her insurrection and the birth of an illegitimate child in 1832, known as l’enfant de la Vendée [25]. Victor Hugo supported the July revolution. However he paid his debt to his former patron with a vitriolic poem attacking the Catholic convert Monsieur Deutz, “paien infame”, who in 1832 had betrayed the Duchesse de Berry’s hiding-place in Nantes to Louis-Philippe’s police: A l’homme qui a vendu une femme (1835) [26].
In order to finance her family and household in exile, the Duchesse de Berry had to sell many of her books, paintings and manuscripts, and her late husband’s Flemish pictures from the Elysée palace, not always for high prices. Sales took place in Paris in 1830, 1831, 1836, 1837, and 1863 [27]. 40 pictures were sold in 1830, 235 in 1836, 97 in 1837, 409 in 1863. In all she had probably owned 1,000 pictures. Royalists could help her financially by buying her pictures. The Paris Rothschilds, for example, semi-legitimists keen on royal provenances, bought four Wouvermans at her 1836 sale [28].
The Duchesse de Berry died in 1870 at Schloss Brunnsee in Austria. She had lived long enough to know that her son, the last French Bourbon of the elder line, the Comte de Chambord (as the Duc de Bordeaux was known after 1830) would remain without direct heirs, as his wife Marie Therese of Modena had born him no children. This was not the Bourbons’ only disaster. In 1861 her nephew the last King of Naples Francesco II had been exiled, her family’s Kingdom of the Two Sicilies annexed to Piedmont. In 1860 the Bourbon Duchy of Parma had also been annexed to Piedmont; the Duchesse de Berry’s daughter Louise Marie Duchess of Parma, widow of the last reigning Duke, had died in exile in 1864.
Until 2011, however, the duchesse de Berry’s collections enjoyed a prolonged after-life in Austria. They remained at Brunnsee, belonging to her descendants by her second marriage, in 1832, to Count Lodovico

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Lucchese Palli, son of a Viceroy of Sicily. A time-capsule of Restoration France, Brunnsee contained drawings by Isabey of the Duchess and her household reading, playing billiards and attending chapel at Rosny; portraits of the Duchess’s ladies-in-waiting by Alexandre-Jean Dubois Drahonet, author of one of the finest portraits of the Duchess, wearing early examples of French neo-gothic jewellery, now in the Musee de Picardie in Amiens; and her diaries and letter-books. Even the bedrooms were furnished with exceptional Restoration furniture. In an unusual gesture of dynastic piety and personal affection, perhaps intended to assert the royal connections of the non-royal Lucchese Palli family, the bedroom and apartment of the Duchesse de Berry were preserved as she had left them, for over a hundred years - longer than were Prince Albert’s in Windsor Castle. They contained portraits of the French and Neapolitan Bourbons, book-shelves packed with royalist works (some of which advocated a return to the ancien regime), the Duchess’s manuscripts, and the Vienna coffee porcelain service ‘with which she had her last coffee half an hour before her death at 9 am ‘ on 16 April 1870, as a hand-written note in Italian attests [29]. I was lucky enough to be able to consult the manuscripts in 1976, during research for my thesis on the Restoration court. These collections, however, have since been divided among family members. Most surviving objects were dispersed at sales at Sotheby’s in London, on 14 April and 8 June 2011 [30].
The Duchesse de Berry’s son the Comte de Chambord, also had a magnificent collection and archive, coming from royalist families in France as well as the French royal family itself. Until his death in 1883, they made his Schloss Frohsdorf south of Vienna into a Versailles in exile, a cultural challenge to the regimes in power in France (as if the ‘Old Pretender’ had maintained a collection of English royalist art in exile in Rome) [31]. On his widow’s death in 1886, they were left to the head of the Spanish Bourbons of the Carlist line, Don Carlos. One of his descendants, Countess Wurmbrand, told me in 1988 that, before the war, so many pictures were hanging in the Schloss that you could not touch the walls. However, sales began. The Frohsdorf library, with signed first editions by royalist writers such as Balzac, was sold at Maggs in 1936. The castle itself was sold in 1942 to the postal authorities. The collections and archives, like those at Brunnsee, have been dispersed [32].

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A few pictures and pieces of porcelain remain with Don Carlos’s descendants the Wurmbrand family in the Jagdhaus of Frohsdorf and with other descendants elsewhere. The only Restoration collection on public view, apart from some grand royal objects in the Departement des objets d’art of the Louvre and the Paris Musée des Arts Decoratifs, is the Jeanvrot collection in the Musée des Arts Decoratifs in Bordeaux [33]. The later Bourbons have no equivalent, as centres of a dynastic collection, of Malmaison, the Musee Napoleon Ier in Fontainebleau and the Museo Napoleonico in Rome for the Bonapartes or the Musee Louis-Philippe at his chateau of Eu in Normandy and the chateau d’Amboise for the Orleans. Even the residences of the later Bourbons have gone. The palaces of the Tuileries and Saint-Cloud were burnt in 1870-1, and their remains demolished by the Third Republic, in a symbolic act of destruction, in 1883. The Duchesse de Berry’s chateau and hospice at Rosny, vandalised by subsequent owners, are now abandoned.
The French Bourbons failed on three levels: biologically; historically; and politically. They failed to perpetuate themselves, to memorialise themselves, and to keep their throne. However, until Chambord’s death in 1883, in collecting as in politics and literature, they helped shapre the parameters of nineteenth-century France. The dynamism of the Duchesse de Berry’s collection and patronage was confirmed in 2007 by a magnificent exhibition organised by Patrick Guibal, “Entre cour et jardin. Marie-Caroline, Duchesse de Berry”, at Sceaux, as that of her son the Comte de Chambord will be, at an exhibition to be held in 2013 at Chambord.

For a few years after 1870 that provincial France which the duchesse de Berry had so energetically courted returned a royalist majority to the Chamber of Deputies. Chambord, however, turned down an offer of the throne in 1873, refusing to accept the Tricolour for the sake of “the white flag of Henri IV”. Perhaps, if he not done so, , both his own and his mother’s collections might have survived intact, to be admired today in France.

Philip Mansel (www.philipmansel.com) is a historian of France and the Ottoman Empire. His books include lives of Louis XVIII (1981) and the Prince de Ligne (2003); a study of the court of France after 1789 (1989); a history of Paris in the nineteenth century (2001); and Dressed to Rule, a history of royal dress (2005). His latest book is Levant: Splendour and Catastrophe on the Mediterranean (John Murray 2010) , a history of Smyrna, Alexandria and Beirut since the beginning of the French-Ottoman alliance in the sixteenth century. He is editor of The Court Historian, journal of the Society for Court Studies (www.courtstudies.org), a Fellow of the Institute of Historical Research, and a member of the committee of the Research Centre of the Chateau de Versailles.

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Saint-Georges, Benedicte Bonnet, Oct 2010, « Les exceptionelles collections du Palais Fesch », L’Objet d’Art.
Stourton, James. 2008. Great Smaller Museums in Europe.


[1Castelot, 1951, p. 58

[2Pougetoux, 2005.

[3Edelein-Badie, 1997; Bonnet Saint-Georges, October 2010, p. 30-39.

[4Cabanis, 1985

[5Bonnemaison, 1822.

[6Mansel, 2001, p. 167-9, 179.

[7Ibid, p. 179.

[8Macé de Lépinay, 1976, p. 367-383.

[9Noblesse Oblige, Sothebys’s catalogue London 14 April 2011, item 200, contains the reproduction of a painting of the scene by Hilaire Thierry.

[10Bonnemaison, 1822, unpaginated.

[11Chaudonneret, 1999, p. 141.

[12Mansel, 1978, p. 381.

[13Guibal, 2007, p. 49-59.

[14Bonnemaison, op.cit.

[15Bonnemaison, op.cit. - the book is unpaginated.

[16Marie Caroline de Berry, 2002, p. 63, 102, 114, 129.

[17Catalogue de la riche bibliothèque de Rosny, 1837, contains 2,578 lots; many collections of novels, manuscripts and prints were sold as single lots.

[18Lami, 1829, passim.

[19Mansel, 1989, p. 103, 138.

[20Grenville, 1861, p. 20 ; Mansel, 2001, p. 324.

[21Sotheby’s 14 April 2011 p. 75 and items p. 187-257.

[22Music, Continental and Russian Books and Manuscripts, Sotheby’s catalogue, London 8 June 2011, items 186-212.

[23Sotheby’s 14 April 2011, lot 248.

[24Mansel, 2001, p. 235.

[25Jean-Paul Clement, 2002, p. 66-83.

[26Bernard Degout, 2002, p. 114.

[27Sale catalogues with prices are in the British Library, 7862, p. 9. The duke’s collection included 14 Wouvermans and 8 Teniers: 118 lots in total.

[28Ferguson, 1998, p. 360; Entre cour et jardin, p. 75, 82.

[29Sotheby’s 14 April 2011, p. 105 item 233.

[30Ibid, passim.

[31Arsac, 1884, p. 165-185 describes some of the works of art, mainly dynastic portraits, then in Frohsdorf. I am grateful for this reference to Patrick Guibal.

[32Montplaisir, 2008, p. 625-6. Some archives are now in the Archvio di Stato of Lucca.

[33Du Pasquier, 2007, passim.