Philippe Lesbahy's bedchamber, with newly recreated canopied bed and rush wall treatment.Chateau of Azay le Rideau before it was finished.
Now owned by the State and one of the historic properties expertly run by the Centre des Monuments Nationaux, it is perhaps the least well known of the big name chateaux in the Loire Valley. That's a shame, because the curatorial staff there do an excellent job and every year the presentation of the chateau features something new and exciting. They manage to be serious and scholarly perfectly combined with charming and fascinating.
The new rush matting in the Oratoire.roof spaces. This year they have recreated a Renaissance bedchamber, carefully based on historical sources, which they explain through the use of information panels, original paintings and a video. I knew the project was underway and involved creating new hangings for the bed, but it is much more than that, so it was a magnificent surprise to see the finished rooms when we took our first clients there in March.
Taking their cue from a well known portrait of a royal mistress in the bath, the curators have commissioned hand made rush matting from an English artisan who is one of the few remaining professional rushworkers in Western Europe. The painting shows the walls of the room the woman sits in as lined with rush matting. The chateau sadly does not have the original painting on display -- that's in Washington -- but it does have a 19th century version that you can get extremely close to and scrutinise for details.The actual braiding pattern for the matting is based on a fragment found at Hampton Court Palace.
Detail of the rush matting.
Detail of the scalloped hangings echoing the decorative wooden bed frame.
The luxurious bed, with all details based on historical examples.