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Château Anet, Renaissance castle, inspiration


From its inception, the Renaissance Château Anet, located due east of Paris just outside of the town of Dreux, was envisaged as a locale not only for the best and brightest of the royal court—namely, the king Henry II and his mistress Diane de Poitiers—but also as a veritable canvas for the most prominent architects, sculptors, painters, and poets of the day. These artists, and particularly the poets, viewed Anet as a spectacular artifice that mirrored Diane's beauty and elegance. While clearly catering to the court, the poetry reflected the common perception of Anet. Upon visiting the chateau in 1557 the Florentine Gabriel Simeoni concluded that even Nero's golden house could not have been richer or more beautiful, while French chronicler Seignuer de Brantôme declared that France would never see decoration to equal it. Historically, Henry II and Diane are most associated not with Anet but with Chenonceau in the Loire valley, from which Diane was removed unceremoniously by the queen Catherine after Henry's death in 1559. Diane was given Chaumont in exchange, but it was Anet where she preferred to live. She died there in 1566. Largely dismantled during and after the French Revolution, Anet in its full glory remains only in the artistic works it inspired.