Monday, October 12, 2015
Last week, Christie's Paris held a sale that featured the contents of an apartment overlooking the Seine. Lots included work by Jean-Michel Frank, Paul Dupré-Lafon, and Marc du Plantier, the kind of furniture that adds excitement to an auction. But what's more exciting to me than these blue-chip pieces is the apartment that once housed them.
Recently photographed for AD France, the apartment has a noteworthy history. Based on my translation of the article (which may not be entirely accurate as my French is a little rusty,) it seems that the apartment, which was built between 1929 and 1931, was originally occupied by couturier Edward Molyneux, who abandoned Paris for London during the Second World War. In 1948, a painter purchased the apartment and promptly hired Maison Jansen to decorate it. Much of the finishes you see in these photos- the green lacquered walls, the ebony-stained parquet floors, the mirrored panels, and the boiserie- were the handiwork of Jansen craftsmen. Now, before you read on, study the photo above, specifically, those lacquered walls. To think that they were lacquered almost seventy years ago, and yet, they look as if they were done just yesterday. In fact, the article mentions that the homeowner's heirs, who inherited the apartment in 1988, were surprised to find that the lacquered walls showed no cracks. Impressive, indeed.
Unfortunately, I can't tell you which pieces of furniture were original to the 1948 Jansen installation. This information was likely mentioned in the article, but I simply didn't understand it. However, I did glean that at least some of the furniture and rugs were purchased in recent times by the painter's heirs, who made the decision to sell their collection at last week's auction. These details, or lack of them, are really beside the point. The compelling story here is how tasteful and well-crafted décor can withstand the whims of time.
All photos from AD France, Paul Lepreux photographer.