Sometimes, I do wander out of New England for material. Today we go to France, to the Moulin de Launoy.
The Library in Moulin de Launoy, 1948.
I first saw the picture above at the age of 12, in House & Gardens Second Book of Interior Decoration (yes, I was that sort of child, completely house obsessed). and it went through me like a lightening bolt. Here was something fresh and stylish, a real jolt to a sensibility reared in the New England of hooked rugs, tiger maple furniture and sandwich glass lamps (not a bad look either, in the right hands—look what Henry Sleeper did with Beauport). It was a new idea of France, for me without the gilt of Versailles. It did not hurt either, that the photographs were by the great Andre Kertesz..
Bernard Boutet de Monvel with his portrait of Millicent Rogers
The presiding genius behind this room was Society portraitist Boutet de Monvel, obviously a man of more than usual style (see a wonderful post about de Monvel’s Palm Beach folly in last week’s Aesthete’s Lament)
Another View of the Library
I find this room amazing, and timeless, with its offhand mix of good furniture against rough walls, with the tile floors, even some lathe showing in the ceiling. Flowers are arranged casually in earthenware pots. Pattern is kept to a minimum. According to the article, the chalky walls have a barely perceptible pink-ish wash playing against the terra cotta tiles. No curtains to block the light. A few well chosen pieces of architectural salvage give distinction. The wide mantel of the dining room is very fine. Compare this mill to the contemporaneous, nearly hysterical chicof the Duke and Duchess of Windsor’s Moulin. Here we have real style that answers to no one, completely unself-conscious, and it puts to shame most modern efforts at this sort of interior. The French have always excelled at this particular off-hand elegance—think Frederic Mechiche in his Provencal mode, for a modern comparison.
The photographs were originally published in an article in House & Garden in 1948, in one of the handsomest issues that lamented magazine ever published (Two more posts forthcoming from that amazing issue). The cover photograph, of the de Monvel’s entrance hall, is hauntingly lovely.
Moulin de Launoy, reflected in the mill race
Two views of the Garden, showing the same mix of refined and rustic as the house
The Dining Room (forgive the curved line at the right, this is why I hate photographs split by a gutter. Graphic designers should not be allowed to do this)
Mme. de Monvel’s bedroom, elegant boiserie cut down to fit low ceiling space, to great effect.
Guest Room, with traditional Breton bed