Nicolas Harlay de Sancy built a château on the former lands of Saint-Victor abbey at the start of the 17th century. This was still incomplete in 1616, when it was sold to Charles de Valois (1573–1650), count of Auvergne then duke of Angoulême (1619), illegitimate son of Charles IX of France by Marie Touchet. de Valois completed the château around 1640, notably building the enclosing wall (1623) and the two wings. On his death in 1650 the estate passed to his granddaughter, wife of Louis, Duke of Joyeuse.
In 1718, the estate was bought by Samuel-Jacques Bernard (1686-1753), son of the financier Samuel Bernard, who commissioned the woodwork in the salon Régence. He then sold it to Germain Louis Chauvelin in 1731, who in 1762 sold it in turn to François Marie Peyrenc de Moras. She left it to her great-niece Anne Marie de Merle de Beauchamps in 1771 - Anne Marie was daughter of an ambassador to the king of Portugal and wife of Pierre Paul Gilbert des Voisins, président to the parlement de Paris. She and her husband sold it to the comte de Provence in 1776.
It was confiscated as national property on the French Revolution and sold on 9 November 1797 to Paul Barras. Later, Barras was exiled to Belgium and sold the château, in 1801, to général Moreau. In 1804, after Moreau's arrest, Napoleon I bought the château via Fouché and in 1805 granted it to maréchal Berthier, prince of Wagram. Berthier spent much money embellishing it, expanding the library, the galerie des Batailles, the salon de l'Empereur and the salon des Huissiers. He also built two more pavilions and the entrance gate across the road. He enlarged the estate to make it the best hunting-ground in the French Empire and gave grand festivals there. His son Napoléon Berthier expanded the library, which included over 3,000 works.
The last prince of Wagram, Alexandre Louis Philippe Marie Berthier, died without issue in 1918, leaving Grosbois to his sister, the princesse de la Tour d’Auvergne, and to his nephew, prince Godefroy de la Tour d’Auvergne. In 1962, René Ballière bought the estate to set up a training centre for racehorses.
Designed by an unknown architect, the château de Grosbois is clearly influenced by those designed by Jacques Androuet du Cerceau. On a U plan, it is made up of a central wing curved into an exedra, flanked by two pavilions of the same height and by two lower wings at right angles. It is built on a rectangular platform in the middle of a once water-filled moat, now dry. It is reached by three bridges.References:
Kroměříž stands on the site of an earlier ford across the River Morava. The gardens and castle of Kroměříž are an exceptionally complete and well-preserved example of a European Baroque princely residence and its gardens and described as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The first residence on the site was founded by bishop Stanislas Thurzo in 1497. The building was in a Late Gothic style, with a modicum of Renaissance detail. During the Thirty Years' War, the castle was sacked by the Swedish army (1643).
It was not until 1664 that a bishop from the powerful Liechtenstein family charged architect Filiberto Lucchese with renovating the palace in a Baroque style. The chief monument of Lucchese's work in Kroměříž is the Pleasure Garden in front of the castle. Upon Lucchese's death in 1666, Giovanni Pietro Tencalla completed his work on the formal garden and had the palace rebuilt in a style reminiscent of the Turinese school to which he belonged.
After the castle was gutted by a major fire in March 1752, Bishop Hamilton commissioned two leading imperial artists, Franz Anton Maulbertsch and Josef Stern, arrived at the residence in order to decorate the halls of the palace with their works. In addition to their paintings, the palace still houses an art collection, generally considered the second finest in the country, which includes Titian's last mythological painting, The Flaying of Marsyas. The largest part of the collection was acquired by Bishop Karel in Cologne in 1673. The palace also contains an outstanding musical archive and a library of 33,000 volumes.
UNESCO lists the palace and garden among the World Heritage Sites. As the nomination dossier explains, 'the castle is a good but not outstanding example of a type of aristocratic or princely residence that has survived widely in Europe. The Pleasure Garden, by contrast, is a very rare and largely intact example of a Baroque garden'. Apart from the formal parterres there is also a less formal nineteenth-century English garden, which sustained damage during floods in 1997.
Interiors of the palace were extensively used by Miloš Forman as a stand-in for Vienna's Hofburg Imperial Palace during filming of Amadeus (1984), based on the life of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, who actually never visited Kroměříž. The main audience chamber was also used in the film Immortal Beloved (1994), in the piano concerto scene.