Monday, December 17, 2012

Roger Prigent's Paris Pied A Terre

The Dining Room in the Paris apartment
of antiquarian Roger Prigent.
Photo by Marianne Haas for Elle Decor.
The antiques and fashion photography communities have recently lost one of their great talents, Roger Prigent, at age 89.  Pronounced "Ro-Jay Pre-Jhawn," he was born in Hanoi, Vietnam, and grew up in numerous French outposts around the world as his father was an officer in the French military.  After learning photography in the French Air Force in World War II, he worked in Paris and then New York where he became a sought-after fashion photographer.  But he was also noted for TV Guide covers and record album covers as well.

The late Roger Prigent.
Photo by Marianne Haas for Elle Decor.
Collecting antiques for use as props in his photography, he opened Malmaison Antiques on East 10th Street in Manhattan in 1978 after a diagnosis of macular degeneration signaled an end to his career in photography.  With the shop managed by Doug Reymer, it soon became a destination for interior designers and collectors seeking neo-classical furnishings from the early 19 century to the mid 20th century.  After a decade in Greenwich Village, the business relocated to his East 74th Street townhouse.  A Christie's auction in 2002 dispersed the inventory, and Mr. Prigent, by then blind, downsized to a penthouse apartment featured in an on-line article for 1st Dibs by Wendy Goodman, the design director of New York magazine.

The Living Room in the
Paris apartment.
Photo by Marianne Haas for Elle Decor.
Roger Prigent's 7th arrondissement apartment on the rue du Bac was featured in the December/January, 1999, issue of Elle Decor in an article by Jeanne Dutton with photographs by Marianne Haas.  As a surprise to many, all the furnishings in this Paris apartment were American made.  Of particular note in the Living Room are the gold-painted stools made of spools during the Great Depression.

A view into the Dining Room.
Photo by Marianne Haas for Elle Decor
In the Dining Room, Zuber scenic wallpaper features scenes of the American Revolution.  The chairs at the dining table were made by Michel Bouvier for Joseph Bonaparte's house in New Jersey.  (Read more about Napoleon's brother's estate Point Breeze in a previous post of The Devoted Classicist).

The Bedroom of Prigent's Paris apartment.
Photo by Marianne Haas for Elle Decor.
In the Bedroom, an American Empire bed is teamed with an American rug and an Eastlake stool incised with Neo-Grec motifs.

In addition to classic Neo-classical and Empire furnishings, Prigent also promoted Twentieth Century furniture by designers influenced by the classics such as Maison Jansen, T.H. Robsjohn-Gibbings and Karl Springer.  The Devoted Classicist could never pass Malmaison Antiques with its whole front of glass without at least stopping to press his nose against the glass and mourns the loss of yet another great tastemaker.


  1. Thanks so much. R.I.P Roger Prigent.
    "...all the furnishings in this Paris apartment were American made" The 1st Dibs / Vogue link is terrific. My regular TDC study is paying off: I'm "seeing" much better now. Much appreciated. Best wishes for Christmas and the holidays.

  2. I always imagine that deterioration of sight and then of all horrors, its complete loss would be one of the wotrst things to afflict a designer. But of course it is one of the worst things to afflict anyone.

    1. Columnist, of course one doesn't have a choice, but I'd rather lose my sense of physical taste. (My artistic taste, for better or worse, is with me for life).

  3. I appreciate your comments, Terry. Best Christmas wishes to you.

  4. Devoted Readers will also enjoy this article by the always-interesting Mitchell Owens:


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