Saturday, April 9, 2016

Notable Homes: Bernard Boutet de Monvel at 11 passage de la Visitation

"Autoportrait Place Vendome" 1932.
Lot 25, Sale PF1639.
Image via Sotheby's.
Those who admire small but chic homes are familiar with La Folie Monvel, the Palm Beach pavilion that was the result of the collaboration of artist Bernard Boutet de Monvel and architect Maurice Fatio.  (If not, see here, and about his Moulin de Launoy here.).  The Florida pavilion was sold in 1949, just months before Boutet de Monvel's death in a plane crash, as the artist wanted to return to his home in Paris after WWII.

The Paris residence of Bernard Boutet de Monvel.
Image via Sotheby's.
The early 19th century hotel particulier in the heart of the Faubourg Saint Germain was bought by Bernard Boutet de Monvel in 1924.  He called on his friend Louis Süe, the artist-architect-decorator co-founder of Compagnie des arts francais, with whom he had participated with on the residence of Jean Patou, to collaborate on the transformation of the interior to reflect Boutet de Monvel's aesthetic, a combination of the neo-classical tradition and the modernity of Art Deco.

The staircase in the Boutet de Monvel residence
at 11 passage de la Visitation, Paris.
Image via Sotheby's.
After  Bernard Boutet de Monvel's death, his wife and daughter continued to live in the house.  Almost no changes were made until just recently; the painter's grandchildren sold the art and furnishings of the mansion at an auction at Sotheby's, Paris, April 5 & 6, 2016.  The catalog with sales results may be seen here.

The Entrance Hall of the Boutet de Monvel residence.
Image via Sotheby's.
In the Entrance Hall, a phonograph cabinet, Lot 71 in the sale, painted by Bernard Boutet de Monvel is an example of his taste in modern classicism.  Above, a Charles X period barometer, Lot 68, is decorated with verre églomisé dates from circa 1830.

A writing table by Jean-Michel Frank.
Image via Sotheby's.
An ebonized writing table with an inset leather top, Lot 75, is branded and numbered by Jean-Michel Frank as "made in France JMFrank, Chanaux and co" 19086,

The Dining Room of the
Boutet de Monvel residence, Paris.
Photo AD France via Sotheby's.
The octagonal dining table, Lot 78, was made for the octagonal dining room to a design by Bernard Boutet de Monvel about 1927.  Two others were made from this same design, one for Mrs. A Steward Walker of Southampton, and one for Mr. William K. Vanderbilt, II.

Bernard de Monvel's drawing of the dining room
"Salle a manger de hotel particulier de l'artiste"
for Harper's Bazaar, 1927.
Image via Sotheby's
The Murano glass chandelier, circa 1920, was grouped with a Venetian wall light as Lot 82.

Dining chairs designed by Boutet de Monvel.
Image via Sotheby's.
The set of 12 dining chairs was designed circa 1920 to 1925 by Boutet de Monvel for his previous residence on Rue Monsieur.  Listed as Lot 77, they are made of ebonized wood with tapestry seat covers in various fruit motifs.  One of the chairs can be seen in an important portrait of the artist's wife, Delfina Boutet de Monvel (from the Edwards family of Chili).

The Grand Salon in the Boutet de Monvel
residence, Paris.
Image via Sotheby's.
With its black lacquer papier maché suite of Napoleon III furniture, the Grand Salon has more of a feel for Parisian middle class comfort than some of the more high style spaces in the house.

A black silk sofa, circa 1920 to 1925.
Image via Sotheby's.
A standout among the furnishings of the Grand Salon is a grand canapé, Lot 93, in black silk believed to have been made by La Compagnie des Arts Francais in the first half of the 1920s for the former residence on rue Monsieur.  A similar sofa was made by Louis Süe for Jean Patou.

A view of the Library that appeared in
Plaisir de France, May 1951.
Image via Sotheby's.
In the lacquered Library, fretwork doors covered the bookshelves.  A pair of allegorical panels almost four feet square painted by Boutet de Monvel provided the primary decoration.  One panel represented his wife, Delfina, with fruits from South America, a guitar, a globe and books which reflect her Chilian origin.

One of a pair of painted allegorical panels, Lot 109.
Image via Sotheby's.
The other panel, shown above the fireplace in the view of the Library, represented the painter, showing his palette, ruler, T-square, and compass. 

The 19th century mantel clock in the Library, Lot 107.
Image via Sotheby's.
This mantel clock also appears in the view of the Library.  Made of gilt-bronze and black marble, the Restauration period clock, after a model by the bronzier Jean-André Reiche, was the inspiration for a painting of his daughter Sylvie and her dog Champagne.

The Boudoir in 1927.
Image via Sotheby's.
The Boudoir of Madame Boutet de Monvel is another room with architecture that illustrated a modern interpretation of classicism with long lengths of mirror representing the shaft of pilasters lining the space.

Chairs and table in the Boudoir,
Lots 120 and 121.
Image via Sotheby's.
The vintage view of the Boudoir shows part of the set of four black lacquered fauteuils from the Directoire period, late 19th century, and a birds eye maple and ebonized wood guéridon from the Charles X period, circa 1830.

A view of the sitting room of daughter Sylvie
from Plasir de France, May 1951.
Image via Sotheby's.

The center table, Lot 145.
Image via Sotheby's.
One of the most charming of the antiques is the ebonized and mahogany guéridon with stylized alligators emerging from cattails, Italian, circa 1830; the marble top may be a replacement.

The chandelier, Lot 146,
the oil lamps, Lot 147,
and the folding screen, Lot 148.
Image via Sotheby's.
The chandelier in Sylvie's salon of crystal and gilt-bronze with swans as the six arms to hold candles is a classic French Empire model of the early 19th century.  The porcelain oil lamps with gilt-bronze mounts date from about 1870.  The papier peint folding screen of four panels dates from about 1850 and depicts muses of a classical temple in an exotic tropical setting.

The rear of the house in 1927.
Image via Sotheby's.
Bernard Boutet de Monvel enjoyed great success as a portraitist of both the café-society and American millionaires in the 1920s and 30s.  Combining the model with a view of their residence or a relatable landscape in a somewhat photo-realistic style, the portraits are both flattering and distinctive.  Sitters included Mrs. Harrison Williams, Mr. W.K. Vanderbilt, and Mrs. Vincent Astor.

The studio of Bernard Boutet de Monvel
on the top floor of his Paris home.
Image via Sotheby's.
Read more about Bernard Boutet de Monvel and his residence at 11 passage de la Visitation on the Little Augury blog.  Here, there are some additional vintage views of the interior which show some variations in the furniture arrangements.

The cover of the new book by Stéphane-Jacques Addade
expected to be published in September, 2016.
Image: The Devoted Classicist Library
The first English language monograph of the art of Bernard Boutet de Monvel by Stéphane-Jacques Addade is scheduled for release by Flammarion in September, 2016.  Read more about it and place your order at a discount from the published price here.


  1. I've admired his artistic vision for years...geometry, compass & ruler were his main tools aside from possessing a photorealistic painterly skill akin to Maxfield Parrish. His legendary handsomeness in all of Europe, fits the Maison's masterful interior/exterior evocative of past eras mixed with Art Deco of his time. He was one of the first to employ Art Deco in decorating through his association with many of the Masters of Art Deco. I finally have a piece of his story...the studies for Joan Payson Whitney's bathroom at Greentree...and now to find a place to hang them! Your stories and photo collages are such a joy, especially today with rain here...your Eye, and Vision are connected somewhere in time with Monsieur de Monvel. Oh, I understand he was a Master In the Art of Cocktails, something new to Europe then, bringing back a mixologist's knowledge from his time spent amongst American Blue Book Society.

    1. T.S., a glitch in the Subscribe By Mail feature published my unfinished draft of this essay prematurely along with republishing an older post. But I am glad that your comment was not effected by the 'official' publication. Your comments are always so deeply appreciated.

      If you have not already, you would be interested in seeing Lot 37 in this sale, a 1935 painting "Diane Et Acteon" which was based on a 1929 study for murals in the bathing pavilion of Mr & Mrs Harrison Williams. Oak Point was the name of the Bayville, Long Island estate by Wm A Delano. Although the mural project was not realized, Boutet de Monvel was later compelled to do this painting anyway.

      You would also be interested in Lot 40, a study model for murals in a dining room for Mrs Jacques Edeline, Ahetze near Biarritz. These are somewhat similar in nature to the Payson murals. He made replicas as painted panels, shown as Lot 41, "L'Abondance Et Apollon."

      Although I was never at the Payson house in Manhasset, I remember the Doyle auction of furnishings that was held on site in 1984 and a photo of the fantastic bathroom with murals by Boutet de Monvel in HOUSE & GARDEN in 1985. I was working at Parish-Hadley at the time, and we thought it was a mistake by the magazine that the caption identified the Payson house as Greentree. Although built on a large tract of land from the Whitney estate of the same name, the architectural drawings and landscape plans for the Payson house were all titled with the owners names and no mention of "Greentree." But any reference to that bathroom after 1985 inevitably states that it is in "Greentree" which people think of as the enormous Jock & Betsey Whitney house. I would love to know if your studies are labeled as "Greentree" by Boutet de Monvel.

    2. Joan Whitney Payson and Greentree...I understand her home was built on the same grounds of the main house that she and Jock grew up in, with hers built when she married. A rather substantial stone veneered home in the Georgian style. I will let you know upon receipt from Paris of the lot if there are notations that will illuminate further. I did see the maquettes of the dining room and well as the ceiling panel for the latter, which I have to be honest would have loved...but I was out of town, sipping my morning coffee when it hit me that the auction was already in progress...being in California, and on the remote edge of Big Sur...I only hoped for bidding is a blessing! I'm happy I even got a chance for wifi disappeared...meant to be. I do have a small Aaron Shikler study I got from Jean Howard's home on Coldwater Canyon, FUNERAL IN BROOKLYN, and got to speak with Shikler, who gave the backstory on the image as well as mentioning the large oil was lost in a fire at Jock Whitneys home. How odd to have studies for both homes.

  2. Oh! Swan and John J!

    I know you both! I have been a fan of "pavilions" since I was 13! (when I first say the pavilion in Pasadena that I lived in for twelve years.....and, I believe "the Swan" bought!
    I first saw the "folie de Monvel..." in my twenties visting Palm Beach. I snuck in the gate.....1966?? it was still took my breath away. Perfection! The others I adore are the pavilions that Jerome Zerbe built on the river in Connecticut....(a hexagon.....or octagon) I need to write a blog......I am a complete devotee of pavilions! I will!!!

    Jerome Zerbe and Cyrill Connolly wrote a whole book about them! They are heaven to live in! We lived in the Swan's former pavilion in Pasadena.....and then built our own house in Montecito...and copied much of the floor plan....Ihad first seen at 13!!!

    1. Thanks, PB. I know where Boutet de Monvel's house in Palm Beach was located, but satellite views of that site do not reveal that was saved despite reports of plans to move and keep the main room. But it is a large property and might still be somewhat intact. If any Devoted Readers know, please comment.

    2. HALF PUDDING HALF SAUCE or THE COUNTRY HOUSE blog has a link to Bing aerial view that shows what's left of the Folie Monvel in Palm Beach...look up Folie Monvel dated July 28,'s now octagonal as a pool pavilion, very much like The Belvedere at Petit Trianon.

    3. I am not seeing it, but I am satisfied, though, in knowing that it survives at least in part. Many thanks.


Your interest in this blog is appreciated. Other commitments might prevent an immediate response to your comments or questions. That does not lessen the value of the blog reader's input, however. Only comments relating to the current post are eligible for publication; non-relevant comments and promotional references will be deleted. Contact me at regarding other questions. Anonymous comments cannot be accepted.