Monday, February 3, 2014

Notable Homes: Emilio Terry for Princess Caroline and Ambassador Raymond Guest

The Paris apartment of Princess Caroline
and Ambassador Raymond Guest
decorated by Emilio Terry.
Photo via
The Devoted Classicist is an enormous fan of the work of the Cuban architect & decorator Emilio Terry (born 1890).  Unlike his sometime collaborator Carlos de Beistegui who only worked for himself on his own projects, Emilio Terry did take on commissions, but apparently only among a very tight circle.  Published examples of his work have not been widely circulated, so it is always a treat to see more than a single image of a project that shows examples of his refined taste.

A corner of the Guest's living room.
Photo: Christie's.
The Parisian apartment overlooking Parc Monceau that had been decorated by Emilio Terry in the 1960s for Raymond Guest and his second wife Princess Caroline Murat Guest allowed a somewhat obscure view into this limited world of high style continental taste when some furnishings were included in Christie's auction in Paris on April 22, 2013.  Despite the claims in the Christie's publicity that the apartment was "untouched" since Terry's original decoration, some differences apparent in the first two photos might dispute that point.  (It must be noted, however, that there were two of these niches with matching banquettes).  None-the-less, it is an interesting look into the genius of Emilio Terry.

The walls and curtains in the Guests'
living room was gaufraged velvet.
The three pairs of curtains sold for
Euro 2,750.
Photo:  Christie's.
Raymond Richard Guest, the New York-born son of Frederick E. Guest and Amy Phipps, was the second cousin of Winston Churchill.  Joining the U.S. Navy during World War II, Raymond Guest served on mine sweepers before being made head of the Navy section of the Office of Strategic Services in London.  After the war, Guest was a member of the Virginia Senate from 1947 to 1955.  President Lyndon Johnson appointed Guest to the post of U.S. Ambassador to Ireland, a position he held from 1965 to 1968.

The exceptional custom made rug was designed
by Emilio Terry around 1963.
295 1/3 x 181 inches.
Sold:  Euro 193,500.
Photo:  Christie's.
As a slight detour in the story, it must be noted that the first wife, Elizabeth Polk Guest, was a descendent of President James Knox Polk who grew up in New York City and attended the Julliard School of Music.  She was on the boards of several music schools, opera companies and arts councils including the Metropolitan Opera Association and the School of American Ballet.  She helped found the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington and was chairman of the friends of the center for many years.  At the time of her death in March, 1990, at age 79, she was a resident of Dark Harbor on the island of Islesboro, Maine, and Front Royal, Virginia.

The pair of sofas designed by Emilio Terry
around 1960 sold for Euro 3,500.
Photo:  Christie's.
But it was the second Mrs. Guest who was responsible for having Emilio Terry consult on the decoration of this apartment, according to the press release by Christie's.  Princess Caroline Murat Guest (born 1923), younger daughter of HH Prince Alexandre Michel Eugene Joachim Napoleon Murat married Raymond Guest in 1960.  (The title was created by Emperor Napoleon I for his brother-in-law and is still used today by heirs).  Raymond Guest died in 1992 at age 84 and Caroline Guest died in 2012 at age 88 at the American Hospital in Paris.

The chimneypiece for the Guests' dining room
was designed by Emilio Terry around 1960.
44 1/4" x 62 1/2" x 11".
Sold: Euro 115,500.
Photo:  Christie's.
Unfortunately, the Dining Room of the apartment was not pictured, but the chimneypiece designed by Terry was removed and included in the sale.  Fabricated of gray marble and decorated with Wedgwood-like porcelain biscuit circular and diamond-shaped motifs, it was estimated to fetch between 8,000 and 12,000 euros.

The canapé-confident from the Guests'
Living Room was 92 inches long with a
provenance of Blenheim Palace.
Sold: Euro 61,500.
Photo:  Christie's.
The apartment is mentioned in the book NOUVELLES REUSSITES DE LA DECORATION FRANCAISE, 1960-1966:  "In each room, unity of architecture, doors, colors is attained; the brightness of the palette and the precision of the form work hand in hand in harmony for the eyes' pleasure.  Classicism, though, is every time renewed with bold invention: in the grand living room, welcoming despite its icy colors, with intimate corners offered by alcoves arranged all around, the stunning carpet, blue and white with a geometrical outline, proves to be no less than the work of a great designer."  The fantastic rug, pictured in its entirety in the fourth image, was black in addition to blue and white and estimated at 20,000 to 30,000 euros. 

A view to Parc Monceau from the
Living Room of the Guest apartment
decorated by Emilio Terry.
Photo via Pinterest.
The canape-confident from the era of Napoleon III that occupied the center of the Living Room was formerly among the furnishings of Blenheim Palace.  Despite the importance through the Duke of Marlborough-Winston Churchill family connection, it appears to have at least partially obscured the center medallion of the especially noteworthy rug.

The pair of 19th century consoles-dessertes in
the living room of the Guests' apartment.
39 1/2" high x 63 2/3" wide x 18" deep.
Sold:  Euro 56,700.
Photo:  Christie's.
The pair of consoles-dessertes may have seemed a curious choice for the Living Room, but clearly a pair was advantages as was the size, and they served to display some selections from the Guests' collection of porcelain.

The faience group featuring Napoleon
was signed and dated 21 Juillet (July) 1804.
Sold:  Euro 20,000
Image:  Christies
A Louis XV-Louis XVI transitional
 presentation of a putto in Meissen with
gilt bronze and lacquered tole, circa 1760.
Sold:  Euro 2,750.
Image:  Christies.
Not everything seen in the photos of the living room were included in the sale.  But it is worth noting a pair of chairs, a console seen in the first image, and a pair of sconces.

A pair of marquises a la reine, one
of the Louis XVI period and the other
from the 19th century.
Sold: Euro 30,000.
Photo:  Christie's.
A gilt-wood console dating the early
19th century from the Guests' living room.
35 1/2" high x 59 1/2" wide x 20 1.2" deep.
Sold: Euro 11,875.
Photo: Christies.

A pair of ormolu sconces in the
style of Louis XV dating
from the 19th century.
Sold:  Euro 3,500.
Photo:  Christie's.
Raymond Guest came from a family long involved in thoroughbred horse racing and his horses were often winners in England, Ireland and France as well as the United States.  His collection of sporting art mostly featured racing horses with a couple of highlights included here.
"Bloomsbury, winner of the Derby"
by John Frederick Herring Senior (1795 to 1865)
was estimated to bring Euro 10,000 to 15,000.
Sold: Euro 12,500.
Photo: Christie's.

"Appaloosa Horse and Spaniel"
by Thomas Weaver (1774 to 1843)
was estimated to bring Euro  6,000 to 8,000.
Sold: Euro 12,500.
Photo: Christie's.
As another detour in the story, Devoted Readers might also be interested to know that the Guests also owned a historic 1,100 acre horse farm in King George County, Virginia, about 3 miles west of Williamsburg.  The property was made up of three historic farms, one having the historic house Powhatan that Raymond Guest bought in the 1940s and restored.  (Today Powhatan is a resort). 
The Guests' Virginia home, Powhatan.
The two top images via HABS
and the bottom via the Powhatan resort website.
All the results of the Christie's sale, which included other interesting lots not necessarily associated with the Guest apartment may been seen here. 
A new book about Emilio Terry by Pierre Arizzoli-Clementel is scheduled to be released in April, 2014, and is available for pre-publication purchase at a discount through The Devoted Classicist Library.  This monograph is in French, with insiders telling me they do not think an English edition will be forthcoming at present due to complications in gaining the publication rights to the images.
For other posts in the Notable Homes series of The Devoted Classicist, see the heading of the same name in the LABELS listed in the right-hand margin of the regular web version of this blog.


  1. I have been obsessed by Emilio Terry ever since I first learned of him, in the early 1980s, and have mightily wished that a monograph would be forthcoming. In fact, I begged the Aesthete's Lament to write one. I'm thrilled that the monograph you note is coming out in April, but dismayed it is in French and won't be translated any time soon. Must think about it. Is it wildly expensive? RD

  2. I just preordered it! Thank you for bringing it to my attention! Reggie

    1. Reggie, at $80 (or $60 at The Devoted Classicist Library), I figure that my proficiency of French was good enough to at least limp through the text. I have not seen the book, but I am guessing that it is stronger on images anyway. Thanks for your comments.

  3. I've never seen a canapé put to such good use, despite it obscuring the centre design of the elegant rug. I notice one of the picture above the banquette is of a swan(s), and I wonder if that was the inspiration.

    1. Columnist, surely there is a swan connection somehow; Otherwise, I wouldn't think the two swans would necessarily be the first choice for the center medallion (though they fit the color scheme). The painting was not included in the sale, if I am not mistaken, so maybe there was enough sentimental value for a family member to keep it. Thank you for your comment.

  4. Excellent presentation of a subject seldom encountered---and very instructive to see the Christie's photos compared with the more familiar
    photograph of Terry's drawing room for the Guests. Now we can see the variations of tone and colour in what is, let's face it, the most eye-catching and unexpected element in the room: the carpet.
    Were it not for that bit of daring, the room with its moss green walls of gauffragé velvet might have been more "expected", don't you think?
    The great designers of the 20th Century were highly skilled when it came to "synthesis" and this room is a fine example of that approach in the hands of a true master.

    I am told that there will indeed be an English translation of the book
    on Emilio Terry, by the way.

    1. Toby, I agree that the rug really made the room. Some of my non-D (not in the design field) friends did not see the appeal, however, and sent me messages to emphasize that point. Too bad, but it made some converts of others.

      And the embossed velvet was a critical element to the success as well. The image with the sconce shows the scale and pattern; what a great selection.

      I hope you are correct about the English edition of the book. I will be looking for it.

  5. John,
    What exciting news! Your post was excellent, as usual. Tice was forever going on about Monsieur Terry, and I recall he had written about him in the old Connoisseur magazine. I too, like Reggie Darling, have long waited for a book on ET, and was thrilled that you are offering it on TDC.

    1. Dean, I read TIce's column in Connoisseur magazine and may still have the series packed away somewhere; I would like to read them again. It is a pity that they are not available on line. Thanks for commenting.

    2. Looks like a mid June publication date!


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