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Jansen & the Antique:
A Private European Collection
By Rufus Bird
The name of Maison Jansen has always, throughout the twentieth century, been a name to conjure with in the world of interior decoration. The immensely talented Stéphane Boudin, who presided over the golden years of this eminent decorating firm, has left his mark on this collection. The earliest piece acquired by Boudin for the Grosvenor Square apartment which housed the collection in the 1950s, was the marble and ormolu chimneypiece (lot 55), almost identical to one that was originally installed at Carlton House in the 1790s for the Prince Regent and later moved to Windsor Castle. It provided a perfect reference point for this collector whose passion for European furniture encompassed both English and French examples and whilst the objects and the collection as a whole clearly references English taste, it was set in a context and scope that is magnificently European. Essential to Boudin's style was a deep understanding of fabric, born from his early years working for the family business in fabric trimmings, allied with an unerring eye for quality in furniture and the decorative arts. His achievement was to create subtly grand interiors for clients as diverse as The Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Mr & Mrs Charles Wrightsman, Coco Chanel, Gianni Agnelli at La Leopolda, Baron Erich von Goldschmidt-Rothschild; and Boudin's final commission before he retired, interiors at The White House, for President John. F. Kennedy. Boudin was fortunate to be decorating at a time when his own personal style corresponded with a revival in the taste for rich ancien régime interiors. He was never slavishly imitative, however, and whilst he found magnificent furniture and furnishings, the context was always full of charm, comfort and glamour. The historicist approach he took to interiors shows here in this collection, formed throughout the second half of the twentieth century and particularly rich in 18th and early 19th century French and English furniture, set amongst a stunning collection of impressionist and modern works on paper and bronzes, seen here in the photographs of the ravishing interiors.
Perhaps most representative of the Jansen house style is the pair of Louis XVI giltwood voyeuses (lot 45), by Jean-Baptiste Lelarge, here luxuriously covered in a coffee-coloured silk-velvet with matching chestnut passementerie. No less luxuriously upholstered is the set of four George III giltwood armchairs (lot 43) originally supplied to the 5th Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, for Chatsworth by Francis (or François) Hervé in 1782. The Dining-Room was perhaps more consciously English than the more Parisian feel of the Drawing Room. The circular mahogany dining-table (lo t 69) was framed by a pair of classic Regency ormolu-mounted and parcel-gilt side cabinets (lot 68) and yet their bold outline is elegantly balanced by a pair of Italian giltwood mirrors above them (lot 67) and glinting on the mantelpiece is a pair of George III cut-glass candelabra (lot 70). Adding a hint of Beckfordian luxury in hardstones is the pair of Italian ormolu-mounted agate vases, with unusual scrolling mounts (lot 71). Once again, an English reference in a European context is provided: similar mounts are known to have been provided by the Zoffolis for bronze vases collected by English grand tour milordi. The collection is both sumptuous, yet personal; compact yet broad in its scope. The interiors and furnishings in their eye for detail are a tribute to this collector, and the genius of Stéphane Boudin and the sensation that was Maison Jansen.
THE PROPERTY OF A PRIVATE EUROPEAN COLLECTOR