Daniel Duclaux and the castle
The Château: from fortified castle to private residence
A fortified castle built in the 12th century, the Musée-château de Villevêque houses the works donated by Marie Dickson-Duclaux to the city of Angers in 2002, and has become an annex to the Musée des Beaux-Arts. This bequest honoured the wishes of her husband, Daniel Duclaux, who died in 1999. The latter was a rich industrialist and enlightened art lover who had amassed a considerable collection of artworks from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.
The presentation of this collection, along with the structural renovations of the venue and the opening of the park to the public, constitute the first phase of a development project that should fully take shape over the coming years.
In the 12th century, the bishops of Angers had several properties scattered on the outskirts of the city. The fortress of Villevêque, overlooking the Loir River, was one of these. Besieged during the One Hundred Years War, it was rebuilt on two separate occasions. All that remains of the fortified castle today is a part of the moat. In the mid-15th century, the castle lost its original defensive role. Bishop Jean de Beauvau transformed the fortress into a comfortable private residence: windows were put in and decorative elements were added to the façade. Sold to a landowner in the 16th century, the castle became increasingly dilapidated until the first major renovation works were carried out in 1873. Daniel Duclaux bought the castle and settled there from 1981 until his death in 1999. The castle became home to Daniel Duclaux’s extensive art collection. The venue has been open to the public since 2003. Reflecting the collector’s personal tastes, the public can discover Daniel Duclaux’s impressive collection in the ground floor rooms of the castle.
Daniel Duclaux: an impassioned collector
Daniel Duclaux was born in Saint-Mandé and graduated from the Arts et Métiers engineering school in 1930. In 1947, he founded his own company; Électrification – Charpente – Levage (ECL) in Lille. He married Marie Dickson (1911-2002), descendent of the founder of the Dickson Company, today the world leader in awnings and technical textiles.
An innately curious soul, Daniel Duclaux bought volume upon volume of art history books and literature. He was a great admirer of George Sand, Balzac, Colette and the 19th century poets. His first purchases of artworks were guided by his reading and numerous business trips. The success of his company allowed him to purchase more and more expensive works of art. He was advised by the young antiques dealer, Philippe Carlier, with whom he established a firm friendship. The engineer-collector revealed a great passion for works from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.
His acquisitions, dating primarily from the 1950s to the 1990s, were varied and closely documented. Daniel Duclaux held a particular interest in the period ranging from the 12th to the 16th century, but also purchased some Ancient and Chinese works. All domains of art are represented: furniture, tapestry, textiles, sculpture, painting, drawing, engraving, miniatures, manuscripts, enamel, earthenware and silverware… This eclecticism clearly illustrates the tastes of an impassioned collector of all kinds of objets d’art.
Since April 2010, the cloister adjoining the museum-castle has been open to the public. This cloister was not initially part of the castle. The twelve columns, which have been listed as Historic Monuments, originally come from the Elne cloister in the Western Pyrenees region. Auguste Durel, owner of the Château de Villevêque from 1961 to 1979 (date of the sale of the castle to Daniel Duclaux) bought these in 1960 and had them installed along the southern wing of the castle grounds.