Monday, March 28, 2016

Stavros Niarchos at Chanaleilles

The entrance hall of Chanaleilles
created by Emilio Terry.
Photo via Architectural Digest.
Millennials think of the 30 year old, rich, celebrity-dating, international playboy, jet-setter when they hear the name Stavros Niarchos, but those of my generation and older might be familiar with his grandfather, the multi-billionaire, Greek shipping tycoon, 1909 to 1996.  His rivalry with Aristotle Onassis, his marriages, and his relationships with women that included Pamela Churchill (later Harriman) and Princess Firyal of Jordan (see previous post here) could be the subject of a melodramatic TV mini-series.  But it is his incredibly chic Paris residence that is the subject of this post of The Devoted Classicist.
Vintage view of the entrance from the
rue de Chanaleilles by René-Jacques.
Photo: via
The hôtel particulier, not an inn but a private, free-standing townhouse with an entrance court and a garden beyond the residence, is named for the Marquis de Chanaleilles who bought it in 1840.  The property can be traced back to the seventeenth-century when it was a hunting lodge, a folie of the Duc de Maine, Louis Auguste de Bourbon (the legitimized son of Louis XIV and his mistress Madame de Montespan).  The present house dates from about 1770.

The entrance to Chanaleilles.
Photo by Jerome Zerbe.
Owned by the Marquis de Brabançon (of Belgium) at the time of the Revolution, it was confiscated and sold several times in quick succession before being given to Madame Tallien by her suitor.  (She later married the Comte de Caraman, who became Prince de Chimay, and died in 1831 at Menars, the former home of Madame de Pompadour's brother, the Marquis de Marigny).  Madame Tallien, also known as Thérésa Cabarrus, was one of the style setters of the Directoire period and her Paris residence was one of the centers of fashionable activity during the post-revolution time.  Madame Tallien enclosed the colonnade from the street to become a handsome galerie with an exceptional parquet floor and installed a notable Pompeian style bathroom.
A view of the west garden of Chanaleilles
with the enclosed colonnade on the right.
(Treillage covers an adjacent building)
Photo by Jerome Zerbe
After years of being closed, Stavros Niarchos bought the house in 1956 and brought in the Cuban-born architect/decorator Emilio Terry for architectural improvements and modern conveniences and Stephane Boudin of Maison Jansen for interior design. 
The east garden of Chanaleilles before
restoration by Niarchos.
A mid-20th century view of Chanaleilles
before purchase by Niarchos.
The east garden after the excavation.
Photo by Jerome Zerbe.
According to a 1969 article in "Life" magazine, he paid $500,000 for the house as a present for his third wife Eugenie (daughter of shipping magnate Stavros G. Livanos), a marriage which had ended in divorce in 1965.  The floods of 1907 had deposited soil that raised the level of the garden, and excavation brought natural light back to the basement level.
A current view of Hôtel Chanaleilles
showing the main house surrounded on three sides by gardens
and the auxiliary building at the sidewalk.
Source: MapQuest.
The plan of the Hôtel de Chanaleilles is T-shaped in plan with the gallery extended along the spine from the entrance facing the street.  The rear garden was lost in the 19th century; the sheer walls in the satellite photo are a neighboring property.

The galerie of Chanaleilles
Photo: Bagues
The gallery's parquet floor of rare woods glows with the bright yellow curtains and four large crystal chandeliers made for the space by Bagues.
Stavros Niarchos in the red salon of Chanaleilles
Photo: Life magazine, March 28, 1969,
The red salon has walls covered in red velvet between engaged Corinthian columns below a gilt ceiling.  The floor is covered with a Savonnerie with the royal arms for the King of Poland, a gift of Louis XV and the furniture includes an ebony bureau plat with mounts by Gouthiére.  But the real focus of the room is the art: a Goya, a Seurat, and the famous "Pietà" by El Greco bought for $400,000 to celebrate New Year's Eve in 1954 according to the "Life" magazine article.
The boudoir at Chanaleilles.
Photo: Jerome Zerbe
White and gold boiserie from the Parr palace in Vienna (where Marie Antoinette was betrothed) decorate a boudoir with a Renoir.

A salon at Chanaleilles
with Règence period lacquer panels.
Photo: Bagues
The largest salon was created by extensive rebuilding by Emilio Terry in able to accommodate some Régence lacquer panels set into the boiserie.  Here these panels act as the art, but there is another spectacular Savonnerie rug and three lavish rock crystal chandeliers along with museum-quality furniture.
The principal dining room at Chanaleilles.
Photo by Jerome Zerbe.
A white salon with a Gauguin is on the other side of the T beyond the red salon.  In addition to a children's dining room, there is a principal dining room with a parquet floor and paneling from Madame Tallien's era.  Empire period Puyforcat gilt-silver vessels, part of a whole collection bought at auction and presented to the Louvre as a gift, are displayed in the dining room along with Meissen and Sèvres porcelain and Chelsea tureens and more paintings.
The Puyforcat gilt-silver at Chanaleilles.
Image: "Connaissance Des Arts" Novembre 1960
Hollywood film star Edward G. Robinson provided about sixty Impressionist paintings from his collection through New York's Knoedler Galleries, sold to Niarchos in 1957 for $3,125,00 to satisfy community property terms of his divorce settlement.
Emilio Terry's display gallery
for the classical collection at Chanaleilles.
Photo by Jerome Zerbe
A special room was created by Emilio Terry in the neo-classical style with bold ebonized and gilt columns on mahogany plinths.  This architectural framework displayed the Niarchos collection of classical pottery and sculpture fragments. 
The Pompeian bathroom at Chanalleilles.
Photo by Jerome Zerbe
Madame Tallien's bathroom with Pompeian style mosaics and a classical bathtub carved from a block of granite was restored.

It is believed that Niarchos' 61 year old son Philip, an active but low-profile collector of contemporary art, still owns and occupies the house.  In 2001, eight works of art described as from a "private collection" were sold by Christie's for more than $10 million; they were paintings by Pierre Bonnard, Eugene Boudin, Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, Renoir, Georges Rouault and Maurice Utrillo thought to have been sold from Chanaleilles to settle a legal dispute among the heirs.  In 2005, a large part of what is believed to be the Stravos Niarchos collection, estimated at a value of more than $250 million, was given to Kunsthaus Zurich on long-term loan.

The photos from LES PAVILLONS OF THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY are by Jerome Zerbe and the text from that book provided some of the history of the house.  Now out of print, used copies are available through The Devoted Classicist Library.

Unfortunately, there are currently no good English-language books about Emilio Terry now in print.  For more about the legendary design firm Maison Jansen, read JANSEN by James Archer Abbott.