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Château d'Ecouen (The Château of Ecouen), National Museum of the Renaissance

Art and culture Sites and monuments Île-de-France Medieval / Renaissance

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  • Château d'Ecouen, National Museum of the Renaissance

    Château d'Ecouen, National Museum of the Renaissance

    © AFP

The Château of Ecouen is one of the best preserved castles of the Renaissance in France and is located around 13 miles north of Paris, on a small hill embracing the plain of the Ile-de-France. It houses the magnificent collections belonging to the Renaissance Museum, which are surrounded by original decor.

Among the castles built in France during the Renaissance, it is one of the most beautiful and, likewise, one of the few that has retained a part of its original decor (painted fireplaces, mosaic pavements, ceilings and friezes etc). The collections that it houses compose one of the most prestigious Renaissance assortments and contains furniture, ceramics, enamels, glassware, stained glass, silverware, paintings, weapons and tapestries, including the remarkable hanging of l'Histoire de David et Bethsabée (The Story of David and Bethsabe).

David and Bethsabe, a collection of remarkable tapestries

The David et Bethsabe series consists of ten complete tapestries, a fascinating look at their many characters and their subtle finesse woven from gold and silver. Woven in Brussels during 1515 and 1520, they belonged to the English monarch Henry VIII. The Ecouen textile collections are full of treasures: notably the series of three tapestries relating the misfortune of Phaeton, or even l'Adoration du veau d'or (The Adoration of the Golden Calf), which decorated the room of the Kings of France on the eve of their coronation. Ecouen has a very large assortment of lace, one of the most comprehensive in Europe.

Luxurious collection of silverware

The only museum in France dedicated to the Renaissance period, the thirty-three museum rooms notably house a collection of silverware (from the legacy of baron Salomon de Rothschild in 1922), Iznik and Ottoman ceramics, Limoges painted enamel, the collection of weapons belonging to Édouard de Beaumont, Masséot Abaquesne's terracotta, and the collection of ceramic pieces from the workshop of Bernard Palissy unearthed during excavations of the Louvre.

In terms of decoration, the twelve painted fireplaces on show in Ecouen are remarkable.

Additional Information:

Musée national de la Renaissance (National Museum of the Renaissance) – webpage on the Château of Ecouen

The National Museum of the Renaissance collections

Réunion des musées nationaux (French Union of National Museums)