The oriental drawing room
An unexpected find in a Loire château, the oriental drawing room is notable for its Hispano-Moorish ceiling, once part of the Maqueda ducal palace built in Toledo in the 15th century. The palace was dismantled in 1905 and Joachim Carvallo bought one of its four ceilings – the one from the “La Martina” drawing room – back to Villandry. The other three are currently housed at the National Archaeological Museum in Madrid, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and the De Young – Legion of Honor Fine Arts Museum in San Francisco.
It took a year to reassemble the 3,600 pieces of the polychrome wood ceiling.
Created in the Mudéjar style by Moorish craftsmen for their Spanish patrons, it combines decorative elements from both Christian and Moorish art. The Franciscan cords, scallop shells, floral decoration and royal heraldic coats of arms intermingle with tracery, gilding and Arabic inscriptions to form a harmonious alliance.
The paintings displayed below the ceiling depict four scenes of an “Ottoman gateway” (now Turkey). They are a reminder of the Marquis de Castellane’s diplomatic career as French ambassador to the sultan under Louis XV. These paintings belonged to the Marquis, so we can reasonably assume that they were at Villandry between 1754 and 1791.