Vendeuvre was built between 1750 and 1752 from the plans of architect Jacques-François Blondel and is a great example of a country house (maison de campagne) of the 18th century. Its owner, Alexandre Le Forestier, coming from a Cotentin family that claimed descent from the Counts of Flanders, wanted a modern summer retreat built in the style of the day. The old manor-house was demolished, as it was damp (it was closer to the Dives river-banks than the present building) and built partially into the hillside slope.
During the French Revolution, Alexander of Vendeuvre and his family lived at Rouen, their house at Caen having been burned down. As the family didn’t emigrate during the Revolution, the chateau was saved from destruction, thus preserving the original décor and most of the furnishings.
The château is famous for its 18th century interiors. Blondel paid particular attention to the highly sophisticated interior circulation and decoration. After the château was damaged during the Second World War, the present Count of Vendeuvre, a direct descendant of Alexander of Vendeuvre, set about the complete internal and exterior renovation of the chateau. The slate roof was re-laid in 1945. Following the completion of the interior renovation, the park’s restoration followed in 1970, using the original 1813 plans as a basis for the garden’s classic French style. In 1983 the Orangery was restored to its former state, having also been badly damaged as a result of action during the war.
In the presentation of the château, each room presents a theme of 18th century daily life. Automatons (mannekins with recordings) point out the salient features of each room, for example the dining room demonstrates the art of receiving and entertaining guests and the Grand Salon shows the pleasures of indoor games.
The chateau’s plan shows that it is twice as wide as it is deep, with a suite of state rooms distributed around a central hall supported by Ionic columns. The layout of the suites (each leads to the next) and the rounding of all the corners, help to spread the natural light throughout each room. The quality of the wood panelling in the main room is remarkable. The furniture is a comprehensive list of 18th century craftsmanship.
The formal gardens that have been created by the present Count of Vendeuvre, have a strictly symmetrical classical lay-out of closely clipped scrolling designs set against gravel reserves, and borders and box hedges set in lawns, with a formal water beyond, flanked by pollarded lime trees (lindens), against a background of mature woodlands. Beyond the sloping fields of the valley of the river Dives, the hills of the Pays d'Auge can be seen in the far distance.
Restored according to plans, of 1813, these French geometric gardens perfectly complement the equally symmetrical garden front of the château.References:
The Palazzo Colonna is a palatial block of buildings built in part over ruins of an old Roman Serapeum, and has belonged to the prestigious Colonna family for over twenty generations.
The first part of the palace dates from the 13th century, and tradition holds that the building hosted Dante in his visit to Rome. The first documentary mention notes that the property hosted Cardinal Giovanni and Giacomo Colonna in the 13th century. It was also home to Cardinal Oddone Colonna before he ascended to the papacy as Martin V (1417–1431).
With his passing, the palace was sacked during feuds, and the main property passed into the hands of the Della Rovere family. It returned to the Colonna family when Marcantonio I Colonna married Lucrezia Gara Franciotti Della Rovere, the niece of pope Julius II. The Colonna"s alliance to the Habsburg power, likely protected the palace from looting during the Sack of Rome (1527).
Starting with Filippo Colonna (1578–1639) many changes have refurbished and create a unitary complex around a central garden. Architects including Girolamo Rainaldi and Paolo Marucelli labored on specific projects. Only in the 17th and 18th centuries were the main facades completed. Much of this design was completed by Antonio del Grande (including the grand gallery), and Girolamo Fontana (decoration of gallery). In the 18th century, the long low facade designed by Nicola Michetti with later additions by Paolo Posi with taller corner blocks (facing Piazza Apostoli) was constructed recalls earlier structures resembling a fortification.
The main gallery (completed 1703) and the masterful Colonna art collection was acquired after 1650 by both the cardinal Girolamo I Colonna and his nephew the Connestabile Lorenzo Onofrio Colonna and includes works by Lorenzo Monaco, Domenico Ghirlandaio, Palma the Elder, Salviati, Bronzino, Tintoretto, Pietro da Cortona, Annibale Carracci (painting of The Beaneater), Guercino, Francesco Albani, Muziano and Guido Reni. Ceiling frescoes by Filippo Gherardi, Giovanni Coli, Sebastiano Ricci, and Giuseppe Bartolomeo Chiari celebrate the role of Marcantonio II Colonna in the battle of Lepanto (1571). The gallery is open to the public on Saturday mornings.
The older wing of the complex known as the Princess Isabelle"s apartments, but once housing Martin V"s library and palace, contains frescoes by Pinturicchio, Antonio Tempesta, Crescenzio Onofri, Giacinto Gimignani, and Carlo Cesi. It contains a collection of landscapes and genre scenes by painters like Gaspard Dughet, Caspar Van Wittel (Vanvitelli), and Jan Brueghel the Elder.
Along with the possessions of the Doria-Pamphilij and Pallavacini-Rospigliosi families, this is one of the largest private art collections in Rome.