Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Elsie de Wolfe and the Jose Iturbi House

The May issue of House and Garden features a fantastic house in Beverly Hills that had been decorated by Elsie de Wolfe in 1936. The home's owner, Countess Dorothy di Frasso, had hired de Wolfe to decorate the house and inject it with some glamour, something that de Wolfe most certainly achieved. In 1947, Jose Iturbi, a Spanish composer and pianist, bought the house from di Frasso and amazingly left de Wolfe's handiwork untouched. According to Iturbi's goddaughter, he never replaced anything, something that is so remarkable given today's mindset of everything having to be new, new, new!

The house is quintessential Elsie de Wolfe. Chinoiserie is prevalent throughout the house, especially in the living room with its' Chinese themed wallpaper and trompe l'oeil bamboo moulding. Mirror, another de Wolfe hallmark, is found everywhere: in the living room's fireplace surround; the dining room's magnificent verre-eglomise walls; and in the bedroom's clear and topaz mirrored headboard and paneling.

Iturbi died in 1980, and I'm unsure who has been residing in the house. The house is for sale, and hopefully the new buyer will appreciate the house and its' heritage. The contents of the house will be auctioned off by Neal Auction House sometime this Spring.

(All photos courtesy of House and Garden)


  1. Love the bathroom at the bottom... I would adore having that much storage space.

  2. Thanks for always letting us know what to look forward to in H & G, and what other great new issues to look for!

    It's amazing that this was all kept as is -- especially in L.A.

  3. Fairfax- Yes, one can never have too much storage space!

  4. Style Court- Thank you!

  5. Anonymous12:22 AM

    it's sad that the contents will be dispersed. It's so rare for a house that virtually retained all its contents through the years and now it'll be ripped apart. Sadly Interior Designers are not being recognized like Architects. Can you imagine someone ripping out contents of FLW's house today??? It would be all over the news.

  6. Anonymous- That is an excellent point. I truly believe that rooms designed by the greats, whether it be E de W or Frances Elkins, have both artistic and historical merit. I just wish that others could see that. With today's mentality of ripping things apart and starting anew, I think it's amazing this house stayed intact as long as it did!

  7. Anonymous8:52 AM

    Wow, this is a very nice house. I never thought that anyone would be able to make one with such good taste back in the 1800's-the early 1900's.

  8. I know you posted this 4 years ago, but I wonder if you have the picture of the party that was thrown in the house? In the caption on the first picture it says that there is a picture of a party that Elsa Maxwell threw there in 1944 and I'm curious to see what it looked like then.

    I, too, agree that it is a shame that the contents were auctioned off, and that it wasn't kept as a museum. So many of the houses from that era are gone now. It's true that design is not as respected as architecture in that regard. But I think that lately some more emphasis is being placed on the legends of the past. For example, House Beautiful just printed an issue that contained a "family tree" of all the great American designers.

    I still find it incredibly beautiful that it was kept so remarkably intact for as long as it was.


  9. Christine- I'm not sure if I've seen the photo of the party, but I'm wondering if it might be in the Acanthus book on Elsie de Wolfe?? I'll look through my library to see if I can locate a photo of it.

  10. Anonymous1:31 AM

    Does anyone know who painted the mural on the wall above the white leather settee?
    I am very taken with that image of the panther and zebra. Therefore, would live to learn more about the artist.
    Thanks in advance for any info.

  11. Anonymous11:42 AM

    the painting is from Charles Baskerville. i love it so much, that i paint it this month here you can find it.