Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Wright Stuff




I was talking to my friend Mattie yesterday about Jayne Wrightsman. Some people talk about the weather, the economy, politics...and some of us talk about very important topics like Jayne Wrightsman. (In fact, Mattie is an authority on all things Jayne Wrightsman.) Anyway, the subject of the 1984 Sotheby's Wrightsman auction came up (the contents of her Palm Beach residence were on the auction block), and we were discussing our copies of the catalogue. I found mine at a local bookstore for $6.99, a bargain according to Mattie.

If you can get your hands on a copy, I urge you to do so. Her Palm Beach home and everything in it was top notch, top drawer, and any other superlative one can think of. I suppose that's no surprise as Stephane Boudin first decorated it with later refreshing by Denning and Fourcade, not to mention the house's amazing pedigree: it was built by Maurice Fatio in 1931 and counted the Harrison Williams as former owners.

Really, the furniture, porcelain, silver, and pictures are exquisite, but this post is not about that. What captivated me was the fabric used on the sofas, armchairs, canapés, and bergères. One print used throughout the living room was from Brunschwig I believe, while I'm wondering if another was a Braquenié. This was some serious fabric in prints that unfortunately are not popular today. It makes sense, though. With furniture as fine as this, no ordinary fabric would do.

That's the living room of Wrightsman's Palm Beach home, above. If the room looks familiar, it might be due to this:



Cecil Beaton's drawing of the room during the Harrison Williams' day.



I really believe that this fabric is a Brunschwig & Fils print. There is something about this print that begs for it to be used throughout a room, and it was in the Wrightsman living room at top.



Do you think this is Braquenié's Toile des Indes? I wish the photos were in color, because you can just tell that it's a riot of hues.





I'm not even going to venture a guess as to what these two fabrics are.


And just because I couldn't resist, check out this 19th Indian ivory bed. Perfection.

27 comments:

  1. Wow. That is a lot of pattern--but it is a very happy room. thanks. Mary

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  2. I love both loads of color and mixed patterns - what a fantastic room!

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  3. Stunning! I love the first room. The fabrics are incredible. Do you think they are still available? I love the walls -- it looks like a starry night in a tropical location -- is the black the shawdows of palm fronds? Just wonderful~!

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  4. Elizabeth Pyne (McMillen Plus)11:42 AM

    It is a Brunschwig fabric! I believe that it is called Menars.

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  5. John T12:10 PM

    Jennifer, this auction started a trend of big decorative auctions with the viewing set up as a lavish display. I was floored by the back-to-back sofa, a concept that I have adapted with many variations ever since. Before this sale, new upholstered furniture did not have much resale value. But I recall this sofa bringing over $20,000, quite the talk of the day. If I am not mistaken, it is done in Bracquenie fabric with a very creative reuse of the border.

    The house was bought by Limited/Victoria' Secret Founder Les Wexner who razed it, much to the outrage of the community. The brouhaha was such that Wexner sold the property and abandoned the idea of conquering Palm Beach society.

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  6. Like a sylvan glade. Beautiful room.

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  7. Elizabeth- Menars- that is exactly what it is. Thank you!!

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  8. John- Wow- over 20K? It is beautiful, and I can't imagine the craftsmanship and labor that went into it. If you ask me, razing a home like that is most definitely grounds for being run out of town!

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  9. Anonymous5:06 PM

    Viva La Jayne: we need a great bio to be written about this arbiter of taste. KDM

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  10. I absolutely love the bed. And as someone who is currently pursuing a graduate degree in historic preservation, the loss of a home such as this is a travesty.

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  11. Oh my, I'm embarrassed to admit. I've never heard of Jayne Wrightsman. Thanks for posting this. The upholstery is fabulous! Would love to see the auction book!

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  12. Anonymous7:54 AM

    This home was featured in HOUSE & GARDEN,May 1984.17 pages of beautiful color & furniture, I treasure my copy.

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  13. Anonymous9:08 AM

    The Illustration of the Williams in their living room shows the decorating of Syrie Maugham. The house was published in Country Life In America December 1932 and Maugham's original version of this room is perfection! It is noted in Salny's book on David Adler that he did the glass over mantel mirror above the fireplace for Maugham. Love seeing the Wrightsman version, thank you for this post.

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  14. Anon- Thank you for filling in the pieces of the puzzle. I need to go back through the Salny book this weekend. Pauline Metcalfe has written a book on Maugham that will be released in April; I absolutely cannot wait for it!

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  15. Anon 7:54- I bet you do cherish that issue. I would too! Thank you for letting me know.

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  16. Elizabeth Pyne (McMillen Plus)11:16 AM

    In their January 28, 2010, sale, the old master paintings department at Sotheby's offered a few pictures from the collection of Mrs. Jayne Wrightsman's London residence, including a lovely (and chic!) Oudry. (http://www.sothebys.com/app/live/lot/LotDetail.jsp?sale_number=N08610&live_lot_id=212)
    On April 28, 2010, Sotheby's New York will offer "Property from the Collection of Mrs. Jayne Wrightsman's London Residence." That catalogue should be beautiful as well. I cannot wait to see it!

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  17. Elizabeth- I did not know that, but I just ordered my copy. I was afraid that I might forget. I bet it's going to be really great! Thanks!

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  18. What a lively and sophisticated room. The Indian bed is outstanding. I have seen smaller pieces done to perfection here in Delhi, but nothing on this scale.

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  19. The closest match in Braquenie's current archive would be B1739- L'Indus, available in mutlicolour, green, blue or orange colourways...

    As for the bed - try www.Beaudesert.co.uk for bespoke four poster beds.

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  20. Jayne Wrightsman and Bunny Melon are the main reasons the White House looks as it does since the Kennedy Restoration. Both were devotees of Stephane Boudin, of Jansen fame.
    I think Jayne is one of the unsung heros of the Twentieth Century.

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  21. Too funny, I always had a fascination with her, and I've been reading Cecil Beaton's diaries with several references and it is quite a treat. I even did a little drawing of her several years ago: http://arabellaproffer.com/images/mrs.wrightsman.JPG

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  22. i wonder if just maybe the one you thought was Braquenié's Toile des Indes is possibly this?

    http://tinyurl.com/yevxyq4

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  23. Lush- I think you may be on to something! Looks like it. I know that Braquenie has some incredibly old designs; maybe their design is based on the document print you've shown. Eagle eye!

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  24. Hi! Going back through your older blogs...LOVE your blog! Are you talking about Mattie as in Matt and Jim?? I thought Jayne was "OUR" thing! I must talk to him about this forthwith, although I have been derelict in my friend duties for a few years...Glad to see we both have wonderful taste in friends!

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  25. Wallflower- Yes, one and the same! I need to go see Mattie myself. It's been a few months.

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  26. Anonymous4:33 PM

    The Wallpaper shown in the Beaton illustration was purchased by Pierre Berge and just recently sold. This is featured on the cover of, "The Private World of Yves Saint Laurent & Pierre Berge".

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  27. Anon- I never made the connection! Thank you for letting us know.

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