1.4.14

Parisian Apartment Frozen in Time




On a winter's day in 2010, an apartment in the Pigalle District of Paris was unlocked and seen by human eyes for the first time 70 years. 


 But to know the full story, we have to back up a little..

Way back, to the early 1900s, when an aristocratic actress named Marthe de Florian enjoyed a life of high society and notoriety.  Marthe was known for her beauty, and her numerous love affairs.  She filled her Paris apartment with elegant and expensive éléments du jour, and entertained the upper crust of Parisian society.  

Eventually, this luxe apartment was inherited by her grand-daughter, Madame de Florian (stay with me on this).

In 1940 at the beginning of World Ward II, Madame de Florian, young and Jewish, fled her Parisian apartment for the south of France.  


Mme Florian never returned to her home there, though she would continue paying its rent until the end of her life.
And so it is because of her hasty exit that the apartment remained exactly as she had left it, every item precisely where it lay seven decades earlier.


Back to 2010:  Mme de Florian dies at age 91, and the apartment is left to heirs.  An auctioneer put key to rusty lock and opened what has become famously known as the Parisian Time Capsule.
What was found goes far beyond ornately carved bureaus, brocade upholstery and silk wallpaper:  they unlocked a long forgotten love affair.

As we've already established, Marthe the elder was known for her beauty and her beaus.  One of those beaus was the Italian Impressionist painter Giovanni Boldini, whose marital status didn't keep he and Marthe from their affair.
In fact, she served not only as lover, but as muse for at least one of his paintings, which had been left behind by her grand daughter in the apartment.  The painting was accompanied by a ribbon-bound stack of love letters, some of which bore the name of Mr. Boldini.


  { The Lady in Pink:  Marthe de Florian. The painting recently sold at auction for $2.1 million dollars. }

But just why Madame de Florian the younger never returned to her Paris apartment is a mystery lost to time, or perhaps just locked away for now...
The exact location of the apartment is a secret the inheritors prefer to keep.  It is not open for public consumption, and sources have it that the apartment continues to remain untouched-- and undusted-- to this day.  And this writer hopes it stays that way.

{ A self portrait by Boldini. }
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Want more secret Parisian apartments?  See here.

sources:  here and here and here.