Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Furnishings: Mr & Mrs Charles Allen Jr

The Salon.
Photo by Sotheby's from JANSEN by James Archer Abbott.

As Part Two of the previous post of The Devoted Classicist, "Notable Homes: Mildred and Charles Allen Jr at 2 East 67th Street", this takes a closer look at the specific furniture and the interior design by Stephane Boudin of Maison Jansen, the legendary Parisian decorating firm.  As necessary, click on the link to go back to see an overview of the apartment building and a typical floor plan.

The Entrance Hall Gallery was not pictured in the catalog other than a glimpse in this mirror over the fireplace shown below.  In JANSEN, author James Archer Abbott describes the space as having doors made in the Paris ateliers of Maison Jansen with the double doors (as seen in the reflection) having plain surrounds, but the single doors having pediments of mirrored glass and gilt-bronze trelliswork.  Also added by Jansen was a white marble chimneypiece and the new ceiling with a lighted recessed oval;  the supply grilles for the central air-conditioning in all the major rooms were carefully considered and this ceiling most certainly concealed the ductwork.
A Louis XVI style giltwood mirror. Withdrawn from the sale.  Note the six mirror plates in three sizes and the two pins.
A pair of Louis XVI painted and parcel-gilt chaises en cabriolet, last quarter 18th century, upholstered in contemporary tapestry.  Bearing the stamp, G. Iacob.  Sold $11,500.

The Salon was located at the corner of Fifth Avenue and East 67th Street overlooking Central Park and panelled with fragments of 18th century boiserie with new elements made by Jansen as required to fill out the space.  Just as remarkable as the woodwork itself was the paint finish, a watery antique green sometimes called "Eau de Nile" with the mouldings picked out in ivory.  In the book JANSEN, the author relates that former Versailles curator Gerald Van der Kemp told him that the green was Boudin's favorite color for a room.
The Salon.
Photo by Sotheby's from JANSEN by James Archer Abbott.

The Salon.
Note that the color of the panelling is not reproduced accurately.
Photo by Sotheby's from JANSEN by James Archer Abbott.

A fine Louis XV ormolu-mounted table a livre et a ecrire of mahogany, tulipwood, sycamore, and fruitwood marquetry.  Mid-18th century, signed L. Boudin.  The top with a three-quarter greek key pierced border slides back in conjunction with the frieze drawer to reveal a velvet-lined reading stand rising on a rachet.  Sold $310,500.
A set of four Louis XV fauteuils a la reine, mid-18th century, signed A. Criaerd, JME, are a point of discussion in the book JANSEN.  Mrs. Allen wrote in a letter to the head of the firm Stephane Boudin that she was disappointed in the upholstery and the finish when the shipment arrived from Paris, having been told by someone in New York that the chairs had stripped of their original painted or gilt finish.  Boudin replied that it was not the case, but that the original painted finish had been touched up in the Jansen workshop to cover wear and to coordinate with the paneling.  The fabric was "as is" to avoid customs duties and would be replaced with the final fabric in New York.   And he added that he was very interested in pleasing his favorite client.  Apparently, any doubts were qualmed as the finish appears to be very much as one would expect from Jansen.  Sold $40,250.
A pair of Empire style ormolu and marble gueridons.  Sold $50,100.
A fine pair of Louis XV/XVI giltwood fauteuils a la reine, third quarter 18th century, signed Tilliard.  Formerly in the collection of the late Thelma Chrysler Foy.
An assembled collection of St. Cloud and Chantilly porcelain was displayed on shelves in lighted recessed niches flanking the fireplace.  The reproduction of color and light is a little off in the printing, showing a more vibrant melon color that would have been true in reality.
A fine and rare Louis XV bureau plat of ormolu-mounted tulipwood, purplewood, and bois satine marquetry.  Mid-18th century, signed B.V.R.B., the mounts bearing Crowned C marks (a tax mark struck on any metal incorporating copper between March 1745 and February 1749). This is nearly identical in size to the bureau plat also by Bernard II van Risamburgh that is covered in ebony veneer in the Wrightsman collection.  Sold $332,500.
A pair of Louis XV giltwood chaises en cabriolet, mid-18th century, signed L. Mayeux.  Sold $10,350.
A fine pair of Meissen 'Mayflower' vases mounted in Louis XV ormolu circa 1745, the mounts bearing the Crowned C mark.
A rare Meissen white oval verriere mounted in German Baroque ormolu circa 1740, formerly in the collection of Thelma Chrysler Foy.
A Regence giltwood tabouret, the underside of the stretchers struck with the letters CO.
A Louis XV style eight-light chandelier of ormolu, rock crystal and cut-glass.  Sold $12,650.
As attractive as the Salon was, the Dining Room was even more spectacular.  The simple Louis XVI panelling for the almost-square room was antique, featuring decorative medallions incorporated into the design.  It was the fantastic paint finish, expertly antiqued in two shades of light blue and old white, that marked the success of the space, however, and provided such a brilliant background for the painting of waterliles by Monet, planned for the north wall opposite the fireplace from the beginning.
The Dining Room.
A Louis XVI extension dining table of gilt-metal-mounted mahogany, with three additional leaves, brass casters.  Sold $57,500.
A set of twenty-two Louis XVI style chaises en cabriolet painted white.  Made in the Jansen workshop in Paris.  Sold $17,250.
A Louis XVI style console, painted grey, with a grey and white mottled marble top.  Sold $6,900.
A pair of George III two-light candelabra of ormolu-mounted porcelain and cut-glass, late 18th century.
A Louis XVI console, painted gray with a gray and white mottled marble top, last quarter 18th century.  Sold $9,200.
This photo reveals the simple but effective paneling and paint scheme.  Also note the duplex electric outlet placed horizontal in the baseboard, almost always the best location for typical placement.

The Library was lined in new Louis XVI style panelling painted a buttery yellow to coordinate with the antique yellow and white chimneypiece, both supplied by Jansen.
The Library.
A Louis XVI table a ecrire of ormolu-mounted ebony and pewter, last quarter 18th century, signed L. Moreau.
A Baltic neoclassical ten-light chandelier of gilt-metal, green glass and cut-glass, late 18th century.  In the book JANSEN, author James Archer Abbott notes that Stephane Boudin personally chose this chandelier for the space.  Sold $27,600.
A Louis XVI style giltwood mirror.  Note the divided mirror plate as a period antique would have had.  Curiously, this room was not designed to have an integral mirror incorporated into the paneling like the Salon and Dining Room, but instead utilized this piece as if it were a fragment of antique paneling.
A Japanese lacquer low side table, the tray-form top raised on shaped bracket supports.  Although the maker was not listed, this is typical of the accessory furnishings that were made by the Maison Jansen workshops that incorporated older fragments to provide supplements to the antiques.

A Louis XVI small painted canape last quarter 18th century.  Sold $10,300.
Secondary furnishings such as modern upholstery were not included in the sale.  Nor were carpets;  Boudin would have certainly supplied either antique rugs or handmade reproductions for these principal rooms. 

The art from the Allens' apartment was sold in three separate auctions according to the appropriate category:  Important Old Master Paintings, Old Master Drawings, or Impressionist & Modern Art.
A pair of oil on canvas paintings Bathers at Fountains in Pastoral Landscapes, Jean-Baptiste Pater.
Two of a set of four pen and ink and watercolor on paper drawings, Chinoiseries, three signed and dated Jean Pillement 1771.
Oil on canvas, Nympheas, Claude Monet.
Unless noted otherwise, all the images are from the Sotheby's sales catalog THE ESTATE OF MRS. CHARLES ALLEN JR. for the auction that was held November 1, 1997, in New York, Sale 7077 "ALLEN".  Upcoming sales can be previewed on-line at their website. 

The book JANSEN by James Archer Abbott was published by Acanthus Press, New York, 2006.  It may be purchased at a discount with the option of free shipping through The Devoted Classicist Library.


  1. For those trying to get oriented, the first photo is reversed. The Salon fireplace is on the east and the room is entered from the south. Also, the color rendition is off; the panelling in this room is a wonderful watery green and the melon colored silk lining the niches is not so orange.

  2. In a recent AD, Michael Smith commented of how his client's Monet is none other that the Allen's in the Jansen Book:

  3. R., thank you so much for that link. As you might know from my series, The Travellers, I enjoy seeing how furnishings appear in different surroundings. In this case, I understand the thought behind changing the frame to bolder and simpler, but I much prefer the narrower classic carved frame as shown in the Allen apartment for this painting. And as much as I hate it when furnishings are relocated for photos, I hope that is the reason for the off-center Monet in the Architectural Digest shot. You comment is greatly appreciated.

  4. Two very interesting posts.

    I looked at this immediately after puzzling my way through the pictures of Boaz Mazor's apartment in today's NYSD. It never ceases to amaze me how much you can tell about people from the way they choose to spend their money.

    (Look at both places and ask yourself, Where am I going to have a more interesting conversation or a better time?)

  5. Astonishing quality throughout. And such a time capsule, too, as I doubt there are many (if any) apartments in Manhattan that are being decorated in le style Ancien these days. One or two, perhaps, but only where the occupants are either nearly as old as the furniture in the Allen's apartment or the offspring of Emirates. Reggie

  6. Ancient, it is interesting to compare the Allen and Mazor apartments. Taking into account that personal touches are missing from the Allen apartment because the intent of the photos was to highlight the lots being auctioned, I think the capability to edit is a crucial element in successful decorating. While I have a high threshold for "stuff" and believe a home should reflect the personality of the owner, I could not help but think how much better the Mazor apartment could be with a more disciplined eye. Your contribution is appreciated; thanks for commenting.

  7. Reggie, the All Cash (no mortgage) requirement of many co-op buildings combined with restricted times for renovation can add up to a significant deterrent to creating a stylish apartment from scratch. Many who can afford it do not have the patience to wait, and others simply do not have the vision. But as long as it is still fashionable to entertain at home, there will be a demand for these architectural and decorative statements. Thank you for commenting.

  8. Delish post/lesson on the Boudin Eye...I have now ordered the catalogue to pair with the Brochure on the close to Heaven as one can get!

    Thank you!

  9. Swan, thanks for leaving a comment? Does the sales brochure give the floor? From the photos, I can see it is above the treetops, but can only guess beyond that.

  10. I've found it...and no floor is mentioned, although there are differences in yr 9 th floor and the floor plan listed on the brochure regarding the master bath and other bedroom closets.

    Leila C. Stone was the agent for Sotheby's. Photography by Juris Mardwig.

    Each of the rooms has a woodburning fireplace, 18thC Boiserie and Versailles parquet floors...with a domed ceiling in the Gallery with a fireplace-SIGH!

    All is listed as pristine and classic, striking a balance between opulence and refinement, luxury and comfort.

  11. My point is not the challenges of having the time and means to creating such apartments, but rather the willingness, nee inclination, to do so. Who, among the current generation, desires to live amongst the treasures of the le Regime Ancienne? Save certain dowagers of more than a certain age, who covets signed Jacob on these shores? I wonder, what with all of this mid-century modern madness and its Design Within Reach denizens that there is even an inckling of iterest in this furniture and decoration beyond the Mrs. Wrightsmans and Safras and Basses of this world, and last I checked the first two are selling. I'm not railling against it, mind you, I am lamenting it! Reggie

  12. Swan, your kindness in checking for this information is greatly appreciated!

  13. Reggie, I understand your point completely and agree. Certainly there is currently a huge trend in Do-It-Yourself that is heavily promoted by the design media and fueled by advertising dollars. Personally, I advocate hiring a trained professional for almost all tasks, as feasible, from barber and beyond. But money is often not so much a factor as are education and style. I know you will continue to do your part as an advocate with your popular and much-appreciated blog, and I will try to do the same. Thank you for commenting.

  14. I love their taste in furniture.

  15. What a wonderful follow up to your previous post dahhhling.. enjoyed more details...

  16. MLHB, for those who love classicism, FFF (Fine French Furniture) can be an asset.

    Duchess, I am glad you enjoyed it.

  17. It was difficult picking out a personal favorite here, although on reflection it has to be the Moreau ebony table, exactly my taste. The St.Cloud/Chantilly porcelains would be a more portable choice. The Pillement drawings were also a pleasant surprise.
    --Road to Parnassus


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