Thursday, October 23, 2014

An Abandoned Parisian Apartment

This is one of my all time favorite stories.  It is 4 years old by now so if you have already read about it, move along.

Imagine finding out there is an apartment in Paris that has been abandoned since the early 1940's. Imagine it is now going to be opened after 70 years. Imagine YOU get to be the one to unlock the door and walk in. Imagine it is gorgeous and has beautiful furniture, exquisite architectural detail, the finest art work, textiles and collections. Imagine who must have lived there.

Well come along with me and experience the magic of unlocking that door, stepping over the threshold and seeing all of this...

This in fact did happen back in 2010 in a busy Right Bank neighborhood in Paris.  Back in the early 1940's a woman by the name of Marthe De Florian fled Paris for the south of France when World War II began. As a result, her city apartment was left completely unchanged since the 40s (she never again returned to Paris).  

Marthe De Florian was born Mathilde Heloise Beaugiron who was a seamstress later turned actress.  Some say she was a demi-monde.

The apartment was discovered after the owner passed away, when her estate was in charge of finding and making an inventory of her personal assets.  The team that stumbled upon the untouched apartment for the first time compared the experience to “stumbling into the castle of sleeping beauty” which was eerily silent and covered in cobwebs.

The amazing find recollects life in pre-war Paris, complete with high wooden ceilings, giant vanities, a wood stove, and the typical French decor that was typical of the time.  Books and newspapers lined the shelves, gold curtains draped the windows, and a luxurious dressing table held hairbrushes, perfumes, and candle stubs that seemed to await the return of a very glamorous woman. Against floral wallpaper and wainscoting, a stuffed ostrich draped with a shawl stood above two pre-war stuffed animals—a very retro-looking Mickey Mouse and Porky the Pig. The formal dining room, with a low-hanging chandelier over the table, wood stove, and stone sink, was still fully stocked with glassware and pots and pans.
The apartment was dusted and photographed with all of the original decorations and items left intact.

(Source)  'Olivier Choppin-Janvry, the gentleman who lead the discovery said his heart skipped a beat when he caught sight of a stunning painting of a woman in a pink muslin evening dress.

The painting was by Giovanni Boldini (a famous Italian portrait painter) and the subject a beautiful Frenchwoman who turned out to be the artist's former muse and whose granddaughter it was who had left the flat uninhabited for more than half a century. 
The muse was Marthe de Florian, an actress with a long list of ardent admirers, whose fervent love letters she kept wrapped neatly in ribbon and were still on the premises. Among the admirers was the 72nd prime minister of France, George Clemenceau, but also Boldini.
The expert had a hunch the painting was by Boldini, but could find no record of the painting. "No reference book dedicated to Boldini mentioned the tableau, which was never exhibited," said Marc Ottavi, the art specialist he consulted about the work.
When Mr Choppin-Janvry found a visiting card with a scribbled love note from Boldini, he knew he had struck gold. "We had the link and I was sure at that moment that it was indeed a very fine Boldini".
He finally found a reference to the work in a book by the artist's widow, which said it was painted in 1898 when Miss de Florian was 24.
The starting price for the painting was €300,000 but it rocketed as ten bidders vyed for the historic work. Finally it went under the hammer for €2.1 million, a world record for the artist.'

So there you have it, I hope you enjoyed our journey. 

(There is lots of information online about this story, I have pulled from here and there to put this post together.  I did source one section as it was a direct cut and paste.)  
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  1. I have never come across this story and am so glad you shared it. I felt like I was in a wonderland as I read and dreamed of experiencing such a discovery.
    Just found your blog by way of Pinterest and signed up to receive an email every time you post.
    Such a gorgeous home you have (and I love english bulldogs)!
    Glad to have found you,

  2. Wow! Love your blog. This was my first visit. I look forward to more wonderful posts.


  3. Wow-thanks Janet & M.D. You flatter me! Thank you.

  4. Oh, yes! This is right up my alley. Reminds me of the mystery, elegance and romance of the famous Café Budapest in downtown Boston, or an apartment scene in the movie the Big Blue and just a bit like a flat I stayed in in Italy. And, another movie Somewhere in Time with Christopher Reeve and finally the song by Cat Stevens, The Year of the Cat. Really enjoyed this.

    1. Exactly---sort of takes one away to the wonderful lust of history, or getting l lost in a novel or song.

  5. What a fabulous story. All the more for its being true life. Thank you for sharing it with pictures! I would have loved to see it in person. Amazing painting. There is something about the old masters.... again, thank you for sharing. Marie

  6. Wow...I can't imagine discovering all that goodness!!!!


  7. Fantastic! Would it not be wonderful to see in person? !


Readers who leave comments are wonderful!