I'm not sure how many of you read World of Interiors, but the May issue has a great but brief article on the bathrooms of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor at their Bois de Boulogne home. Photos of both bathrooms as well as the rooms' contents were included in the Sotheby's auction catalogue from 1997. But beyond what was included in the catalogue, I knew little about these rooms.
In the article, writer Hugo Vickers (who has written a book on the famous couple) touches briefly on the Duke's bathroom, which was elegant but rather plain (Vickers writes that the Duke, who preferred showers to baths, had a "Psycho" like shower in his bathroom). But fortunately for us, Vickers focuses on the Duchess' charming bathroom.
I learned that Dmitri Bouchene, a Russian painter and set designer, painted the ceiling of the bathroom to give it a tent-like effect. If you look closely in one of the photos, you will see an oculus painted in the ceiling which reveals a cloudy blue sky beyond the tent. Bouchene also painted garlands of flowers on the walls, and even painted scenes on the walls of the loo (see the photo below of the figure who is blind-folded, giving the Duchess her privacy!). I was always curious about the gilt-framed small paintings that were hung around the bathtub. According to Vickers, these paintings are actually New Year's cards that Bouchene sent to the Windsors every year. Lucky for Vickers that he successfully bid on many of these cards at the 1997 auction.
Of course, we're all familiar with the Cecil Beaton painting of the Duchess, hung on the mirrored wall above the bathtub. And those purple towels? They're by Porthault and are monogrammed with Wallis' cypher "WW" (Wallis Windsor) as well as the royal ducal coronet. I remember seeing the towels, or at least the bath mat, in the auction catalogue; I wonder who the lucky bidder was?
But I think that the most amusing anecdote from the article was Vickers' reminiscence about his shock upon seeing that Wallis' toilet had a plastic seat! And Wallis evidently was not alone- Vickers claims that Diana Vreeland had one too. Quelle horreur!
(All images from World of Interiors, May 2008; photographer Fritz von der Schulenburg)