Friday, February 11, 2011

In His Own Words

It's always a nice surprise to find a note or an article tucked into the pages of an old book. I've come across photos, business cards, even Don't Forget notepaper in my vintage books. I recently bought some old issues of the French publication Connaissance des Arts, and the previous owner, a doctor in Beverly Hills, had made notations throughout the pages. (At least, I'm assuming the notes are his.) These were no ordinary notations either, having been typed on note cards and placed within the corresponding article. It makes my method of folding over the top corner of a magazine page seem downright primitive.

In the Christmas 1954 issue, a lavish article on Charles de Beistegui's Palazzo Labia appeared. The Venetian palace is noted for its elaborate baroque design, its frescoes by Tiepolo, and its impressive renovation in the late 1940s and early 1950s by the wealthy de Beistegui. But, not everybody seemed to have been impressed by Beistegui's handiwork. The Beverly Hills doctor included this observation about Palazzo Labia:

Le Palais Labia a Venise, one of the main residences of M. Charles de Beistegui. This little renovation reputedly set him back a c-o-o-l $10,000,000.00. He was really having one of his 'off' moments, and can do MUCH better.

Well, it's nice to see that someone wasn't afraid to express his opinion.

Le Salon des Indes at Palazzo Labia

The Tiepolo frescoes

The bedroom of de Beistegui

Palazzo Labia images from Connaissance des Arts, December 1954


  1. The 90210 Doc foresaw the practice of blog commenting, no? As for me, I would say that Beistegui had an incredible track record in getting it right. For example, all those who hang the chandeliers so high with short candles should learn from these magnificent examples. I would have loved to have attended the famous ball held there. The closest I got was seeing the entrance "carpet", actually beautifully painted plywood panels, in a particularly chic Nashville antiques shop.

  2. An "off" moment? Is he mad? Labia was pretty swell, even if Beistegui didn't own it for terribly long.

  3. Doesn't look "off" to me!! Maybe a little stiff--but with Tiepolo frescoes, who cares? Love this. Mary

  4. the 'Labia was pretty swell'?? no pun intended?? (Sorry! I know too rude to post but i couldnt resist!) xx

  5. What a great find -- I love the well organized notetaker Doctor,

  6. The chandeliers are beyond the beyond+the beds so over the top. Loved reading what the doc. had to say. Great Post.

  7. I am just so relieved I never met the doctor!!!

    I have managed for 40 years to avoid his "ilk" in my life as a decorator........and I have loved almost every single minute!!

    that "doctor" might have stopped me in my tracks...and sent me into some horrible career as a "counter"? Who knows???

    Whew! That 'buttah yellow" velvet bed is calling to me!

    I have never seen these pictures.......a more exquisite and original house has never existed....(in my humble opinion) before.......or since. Just NEVER.
    It is brilliant beyond anything that has ever been published.......

    Perhaps there are more magnificent places......(I doubt it) however; this is as good as it gets.....for creativity; eye for beauty, scale, proportion, and drama. He gets it all! He gets an A++++++++

    I have never.............. Just breathtaking!

  8. Jennifer,
    Great post on Carlos de B. Paige Rense very sweetly published one of my letters to her regarding her coverage of de bestigui in the old Architectural Digest!

    Love seeing these rare images!

    Dean in Naples

  9. Oh, what a delight--both the photos of Labia, and the doctor's careful notes. All pretty wonderful in every way for an off moment, I'd say.

    I once bought an autographed copy of 'Billy Baldwin Remembers' at a local library book sale, and to my amazement, a note from Baldwin to the owner fell out. It began 'Dear Butch...'

  10. What a find! Before the internet, blogs and such we more often than not never knew of people's private thoughts and strong opinions. The fact that the notes are typed is intriguing.

    Personally I cringe at folded corners in magazines, especially books. It is simply sacrilegious.