Thursday, June 25, 2015
Richard Lowell Neas in France
It's always a treat to stumble upon the work of the late decorator and decorative artist, Richard Lowell Neas. Over the years, I have collected photos of his Manhattan apartment as well as examples of his trompe l'oeil painting. What remained elusive to me, though, were photos of his much-admired home in southwestern France. Thanks to a generous friend, who recently gave me a decade-worth of House Beautiful back issues, I finally have my hands on photos of Neas's charming French country house.
The c. 1770 stone house (see above), located in the town of Charente, was built for the village priest, which explains the structure's close proximity to a Romanesque church. When Neas found the house, it was in shambles. But rather than being deterred by the home's sad state, Neas saw it as an opportunity to breathe new life into an old home whose centuries-old structure remained mostly intact.
When I studied the photos of the home's décor, I was left with the impression that Neas must have reveled in creating his dream country house. The fabrics have a definite French flair (most of them were by Brunschwig & Fils, for whom Neas designed those now-famous trompe l'oeil papers, including Bibliothèque,) while the kitchen and pantry are like French country cuisine: earthy, yet well-seasoned, too. But what especially charms me are Neas's decorative jeux d'esprit, which can be seen throughout the house. That stone floor in the dining room? It's actually painted wood. And that wooden-clad guest bedroom? Its walls were painted to mimic wooden boards.
All photos from House Beautiful, February 1993, Jacques Dirand photographer