I am writing about Maison Jansen because there are still many design professionals and enthusiasts that are unfamiliar with the noted inteior design firm. In James A. Abbott's JANSEN, he states that Maison Jansen was the most famous and influential interior decorating company of the 20th century. I resisted accepting that claim at first, but I fully embraced it after reading the book. The Jansen client list was a very diverse international group; most of them powerful and all were rich. With headquarters in Paris, there were eventually offices or boutiques in Buenos Aires, London, Cairo, Alexandria, Havana, New York, Prague, Sao Paulo, Rome, Milan, and Geneva.
When the house was sold in 1984 to Leslie Wexner of The Limited and Victoria's Secret, some of the antiques and art were divided between the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Wrightsmans' Manhattan apartment. So-called lesser pieces were sold at a celebrated auction by Sotheby's New York, an eye-opening event I experienced first hand with "decorative" and "second hand" furnishings selling for record prices. Wexner demolished the famed house on six acress at 513 North County Road with 600 ft of ocean frontage, causing such an uproar from locals, that he abandoned plans to build a new house (designed by my former employer BeyerBlinderBelle) and decided against having a vacation house in Palm Beach after all. Jayne Wrightsman, b. 1920, who introduced Boudin to Jackie Kennedy, still lives in a palatial, full-floor, art and antiques-filled apartment at 820 Fifth Avenue, one of New York City's most desirable addresses.
And the Wrightsmans are just one of the many clients and projects profiled in the book! There is also a sequel of sorts, Jansen Furniture, to be reviewed in a future post. Both are highly recommended for anyone interested in interior design.
Both Jansen books by James Archer Abbott are available at discount pricing with the option of free shipping through The Devoted Classicist Library in affiliation with Amazon here.