Page 15

I NTRODUCTION

STÉPHANE JULES LÉON BOUDIN, 1919

within the rooms . . . how he uses each one.”33 Through this costly lesson, Boudin adopted JeanHenri Jansen’s approach of investing in clients’ lives, A onetime director of Jansen, Inc., Paul Manno, remembers when he and Boudin counseled the wife of an important client, listening to her tearful description of the marital abuses she had to endure. “We stayed with her, talking her out of the momentary threat to leave the marriage.”34 Boudin compartmentalized his own existence, however. Few knew his wife, Marie Léontine Geneviève Prévost, whom he married in January 1921. By all accounts their marriage was close but somewhat formal. “She was,” recalled a family member, “a very serious woman, once in love with a soldier who did not

make it back from the [first world] war.”35 After accepting Boudin’s proposal, this handsome woman never craved a large house, extensive travel, or imposing jewelry like most of her husband’s clients; she was their antithesis.36 Even the mistress Boudin maintained for many years—and for whom Lady Baillie secured a deathbed visit through Boudin’s wife—was described as “surprisingly unassuming.”37 The Boudins had one child, Brigitte, who was adopted in 1939, shortly after her birth. The product of an extramarital affair of her father’s, Brigitte Boudin was devoted to her father and her adoptive mother, as well as to Maison Jansen.38 When she became older, she accompanied Boudin to South America and the United States, meeting many of his famous clients and experiencing much of the social extravagances of Manhattan, Palm Beach, and Buenos Aires. Boudin’s own residences were simplistic compared to the fantastic creations he designed for others. Granted, there were exquisite objects, ranging from a handsome ormolu-adorned bureau plat to a fine group of 19th-century drawings by Eugène Boudin, but all were simply arranged against discreet painted walls and unostentatious carpets.39 For the windows, Boudin avoided the luxurious fringes and braids considered family hallmarks and which he was so passionate about obtaining for his clients. Even his country houses—La Chatellerie on the Seine and Rochebonne in the Loire Valley—were treated in a simplistic manner.40 Artist and Boudin friend Etienne Drian definitively captured his modesty and work ethic by portraying the decorator with his back toward the viewer, seated in an austere Charles X chair at a neatly organized Louis XVI writing table before a window hung with cotton voile.41 The simplicity and restrained orderliness of the scene well defined

23

Jansen: Decoration (excerpt)  

Jansen showcases 30 of the company's most alluring commissions, including rooms for the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, the Shah and Shahbanou...