Treasures of the Duke of Aumale

A fable is a short and pleasant story that gives a moral lesson. It often uses animals to reflect humanity’s travails. A genre that is common to all cultures, its origins are lost in the distant past. The fable’s flexibility incites reinvention and the creation of images, essential for perpetual modernising.

It is possible to distinguish two directions in the history of books of fables.
The conservation, compilation and translation of fables constitute the "scholarly" tradition, the best expression of which is in work done by humanists, especially the Italians of the 16th century. On the contrary, the transformation of the material of fable for pedagogical or satirical reasons has led to a literary practice that Jean de la Fontaine illustrated brilliantly in the 17th century.

By gradually taking on its own identity, the album of fables acquired a form of legitimacy. A genre that displayed its pedigree in the 18th century. The writer of fables became more charming through specific forms of sharing: gifts, books distributed as "prizes" and bibliographic treasures.

The book of fables is an ideal common thread for discovering the library of Chantilly: it reflects the strong classical culture of the Duke of Aumale, his love of French literature and family souvenirs in addition to his fascination for rare and unique books.



Marie-Pierre Dion et Hélène Jacquemard, with the participation of Florent Picouleau
Library of the Condé Museum


Useful information 

Place: The Reading Room of the Château 

Exhibition included in the Domain ticket without supplement