Wednesday, October 6, 2010

A Most Romantic Discovery

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Can you just imagine turning the key in the keyhole of a beautiful old building in Paris to enter an apartment that for over 70 years lay untouched. With the rent faithfully paid, the doors locked, and an incredible treasure trove hiding inside, this apartment remained a secret. That is, until the apartments last occupant recently passed away at the age of 91. She shut the apartment up just before the outbreak of World War II to go live in the south of France and she never returned. The dust filled romantic rooms of treasure were discovered by  an auctioneer sent to inventory her belongings.

That is only part of the romantic story of the apartment of the granddaughter of Marthe de Florian, a beautiful actress of the early screen. When this lucky auctioneer entered the dust-covered Parisian apartment to take inventory of the possessions, he was quoted saying that he "had the impression of creeping into Sleeping Beauty’s castle where time had stood still". In the beautiful decaying apartment he came across a painting, which had hung in the living room, of an actress of exceptional beauty who went by the name of Marthe de Florian, enshrouded in a pale pink mousseline evening dress. The real story here is that this portrait was painted by one of 19-century Paris’ most prized portrait artists, Italian Giovanni Boldini.

Image via Yahoo news

The auctioneer had a hunch that this painting was made by the famous Boldini but could not find any record of the painting, it was not in any reference books and it had never been exhibited. After extensive research he found  one of Boldini’s calling cards in the apartment with a love message by the painter written to de Florian. Knowing this was the link, he continued his search and found proof that this painting was indeed a Boldini after finding mention of it in a book belonging to the painters widow.

Amazing Stuffed Ostrich via

Marthe de Florian had hosted her many admirers in the apartment where “she kept letters from her lovers in little packages wrapped up with ribbons of different colors,” according to one of the people who worked on the inventory. The calling cards of senior statesmen from the period were found tucked away in drawers.

This week, the painting, painted in 1898 when de Florian was 24 years old, went up for auction in Paris. Ten bidders fought to own the piece, the final price came to an astonishing €2.1 million, the highest price of any Boldini piece. "It was a magic moment. One could see that the buyer loved the painting; he paid the price of passion,” art specialist Marc Ottavi was quoted by The Telegraph
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  1. LOL we're on the same page! I just posted this article, too funny! I wish they would keep it the apartment as a museum or something, undisturbed. I can't wait to see you at Vignettes!

  2. So fabulous... did I see an ostrich?

  3. Sounds a little like a French 'Great Expectations'.....xv

  4. I just saw this on Claudia's blog, it is amazing I love this artist even more now and I love the fact that the painting sold for so much, what people will pay for a good story.......Maryanne xo

  5. Dearest Judith~

    OMG! My heart was racing through this story~~~~ Fast~~~ then faster!!!
    This is what we all dream of through our treasure hunts...a story like this behind every special little thing we buy. The painting is BEAUTIFUL!!! Thank you for sharing this magical article.

    Noel & I are so excited to finally meet you on Saturday!!!


  6. Unbelieveble fantastic post...with many,many,many fabulous deatails and immensly wonderful atmosphere!

    Those painting tooks my breath away,realy tuching;-)*


  7. Truly a relic from a bygone age..
    a treasure..

  8. I agree with parisapartment. They should keep it as it is (but clean the dust so that no more damage can come to the artifacts, of course) and show it to the public. I would have loved to see something like that when we went over there. This is such an amazing story. What a beautiful apartment, even with all the dust! It's like a time capsule you can walk into!

  9. Isn't this just the most wonderful story? I see a made for tv movie or a romance novel here, don't you! Can you believe the beauty in that painting? He really painted his passion for her in the piece.
    Just lovely!
    --Lee Ann

  10. Breathtaking!!! The painting evoked passion and romance, love and seduction what more can two lovers ask for. You know my favorite color is Pink so I am partial but overall the post was awe inspiring. Bellisimo


  11. Just a gorgeous, romantic story - thanks so much for sharing! J x

  12. This is such a story - you would never think it could be true if it were a book of fiction. And it is reality. Wonderful piece of news - thanks for sharing it. The painting is truly grand. Will research Boldini....

  13. Loved this story too!!

  14. I´ve see recently an exibition in Rome of Boldini, that´s pure beauty! I like so much the aestestic of your blog, i`ll follow you!


  15. A Parisian sigh... lovely, and oh what a gorgeous painting.

    And omg there is a Mickey Mouse in the photo!

  16. What an incredible story ~ and the painting is stunning! I cannot wait to share this with Sean...he will go nuts (as did I) over such a treasure find!

    Bon week-end to you!

  17. OH!!! I am just fasinated by this story. Would I love to see and read the letters, WOW!
    Now, my Mom would had smacked me for saying that. She would say none of your business.


  18. It's amazing that the building not only wasn't bombed, raided or that the apartment was never broken into! Surely neighbors would have noticed nobody ever entering or exiting. Wonder if anybody in the family knew about this place or if it was a secret? Also I wonder why nobody ever came back? And why they had left all this stuff and apparently not wanting to retrieve it again yet not give it up? So many questions, so few answers, but an amazing story it is!

  19. Thanks for your lovely comment, I have been stalking your blog and your beautiful photos and words.. Have been meaning to leave a comment about this gorgeous room. I would love a room like that. Wonderful blog. Carla

  20. I have to say, I just discovered your blog, and it is fantastic! I think this article is the best I have ever read! I wish that apartment were to remain untouched, it is ever so perfect! I love the true original French pieces, with their perfect chipped and faded paint. Amazing!That mirror made my heart race!@!Wow!!

  21. Gimme those keys if you find them! haha

    I am a great fan of french furniture and this would be just overwhelming!

    Nice Blog!



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