Monday, August 23, 2010

Castaing-Cocteau Decorate A French Villa

Have you ever had an artist friend draw or paint on your walls? I have!

It was actually a boyfriend who loved ancient Egyptian tomb paintings, and he filled our large Brooklyn apartment walls with the most amazing life size drawings. Somehow it looked great with my Art Deco furniture that I had at that time.

So these images HERE made me smile.

An artist drew on the walls of this French villa in Cap Ferrat

Francine Weisweiller, a socialite, and artist Jean Cocteau had a "a coup de foudre of friendship".

Cocteau murals in a room decorated by Madeleine Castaing

Francine herself adored style. She was an early client of Christian Dior; Roger Vivier custom made her shoes, and she became a great friend of Coco Chanel’s. She was also a pal of Madeleine Castaing, the eccentric decorator whose leopard-print carpets and upholstered Second Empire furniture.

Note: Go HERE to Topsy Turvy for a nice blog post about Madame Castaing.

The view from the villa

Her villa, Santo-Sospir was then one of the loveliest on Cap Ferrat. She invited Cocteua to stay there for a rest. When he saw the bare walls he said that he found the silence of the walls terrible. Cocteau liked to say that he learned from Matisse that once you paint one wall, the other three look bare.

Francine and her coup de foudre Jean Cocteau

For six months, Cocteau painted and frescoed (or tattooed, as he liked to say) doors and walls with sweeping mythological figures, turning the place into a luminous fantasy. And if the walls were fantasies, so too was the décor.

Detail of the Cocteau mural in the drawing room

Weisweiller and Castaing chose bamboo furniture from Sumatra for the dining room and then covered the walls and ceiling entirely in giant reeds. To match the strength of the drawings, they favored wicker furniture with strong tropical prints.

Cocteau did the mosaic at the entrance of the villa

Cocteau painted the walls and the lamp shade in the guest bedroom

This article couldn't be more timely. Fellow blogger Emily Evans Eerdmans has a new book coming out about Madeleine Castaing.

I have pre ordered "The World of Madeleine Castaing" HERE, and have put in on the reading list of must-haves for my clients. I wonder if she included this villa in her new book.

And by the way, I never painted over the drawings on the walls, though I wonder what the tenants who came after me did. I'm glad the villa at Cap Ferrat preserved their house guest's wall paintings, aren't you?

Some excerpts are from the article by Geraldine Fabrikant.


Mélanie A. said...

What a fantastic villa . I love the mosaic at the entrance.

pve design said...

If you move to NY, I will paint your walls dear.
Would you like me to ask Emily to sign your book?

Amalia said...

What a nice post! I love this elegant villa!
Greetings from Rhodes, Greece

Lila said...

This post made me laugh because my daughter just colored on our walls with crayon. I said, "What did you think you were doing?!!" She innocently said, "I was just painting a picture!" I guess she was!
Lila Ferraro

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

I swooned over this layout yesterday. It reminded me of Charleston somewhat. I have painted walls myself.

Margaret said...

Unfortunately, most likely your murals were painted over by uninspired house painters. I've painted a wall, and it's true: one wall will not suffice! But, you do run the risk of appearing like a crazed person if you attempt this feat, i.e., my neighbor spray painted his walls with Chinese symbols. It looked like a graffiti under a bridge!
Thank you for the great history + art lesson!

Ms. Smart said...

had to look up the term, and fell suddenly coup de foudre with it. :)

pretty pink tulips said...

I've been thinking about having someone paint my son's room --- with a Paris skyline, as he is obssessed with Paris and now that he's been to the top of the Eiffel Tower, it would have special meaning.

As far as Madeleine Castaign....I have had tear sheets from the iconic home for years. LOVE! She was doing leopard before anyone else, I think! And that perfect shade of blue!

I am pre-ordering now!
xo Elizabeth

Topsy Turvy said...

How nice to have such talented friends! Thanks for the mention, Valorie.

Topsy Turvy said...

How nice to have such talented friends! Thanks for the mention, Valorie.