THE SECOND FLOOR
The Chinese Bedroom
The furniture is comprised of a “table de toilette” in dark wood with an Oriental-style pitcher in sterling silver and an old Cologne bottle. A lovely Chinese-style gilt bamboo-like chair (perhaps by Erhard and Söhne, Germany) with embroidered upholstery is perfect in this room. It was found a long time ago by BillyBoy* and took naturally its place in this Oriental room. The floor is a very early type of linoleum, an invention of the 18th and early 19th-century. It has a black and gold cross-hatched pattern. The center piece is a lovely bed in brownish red lacquered wood with gold paper trim. It has a beautiful bedcover in Chinese-style print with matching pillow and a red silk quilt on which we placed a stretching Steiff cat who seems to be disturbed by the visit. Above the bed is an oil painting of a nude woman in the French 19th-century Academic style. The two pairs of straight curtains are matching the bed cover and are enhanced with a red silk Chinese-style valance, mounted on cardboard and fringed in bright red silk.
Next to the bed is an emerald-lacquered desk, with a gramophone on it - that’s the one! - a bronze Buddah which BillyBoy* has had all his life associated with this house, as well as a paper frame from "La Poupée modèle" with a woman’s photographic portrait in it. The Chinese-style ceiling lamp is made of printed silk with silk ribbon and hangs from a tassel with crystal bead ornament. The set of paper accessories comprising the frame, a foot stool, a lovely oriental purse with belt and soft white metal buckle are all cut-out paper doll accessories proposed in the children's magazine "La poupée modèle" and date from about 1860. The overall effect of the room is very luscious, in the typical Oriental-style that was so fashionable. Think of the Brighton Pavilion (it's official name is the Royal Pavilion) in Brighton, England, and its huge influence on the taste of the Victorian Era. This room exemplifies the epitome of 19th-century interpretation of European Chinoiserie.
The door on the right opens to a very luxurious yet intimate boudoir with has been turned lately into a complementary bedroom with dark oak twin beds (the man and lady of the house have adopted two children from a distant cousin who passed way). For those who are not familiar with the French language, it is worth noting that the word "boudoir" comes from the verb "bouder" which means "to pout".
I always found this name for a room filled with a typical French spirit. A definitely feminine room then, the boudoir is a place where ladies would find a shelter - or strategic location - to pout! This invention comes from the eighteen-century, a creation of the so-refined Madame de Pompadour, which leads us to think that before this time ladies had to pout outside in their horse-drawn carriage or in any other room inside the house, how ordinary!
The decoration was a dominant tonality of grey and blue with it's previous set of furniture. Now, it is predominantly mauve and prune, burgundy and golden browns. The baroque moulding is painted gold and the wallpaper is prune coloured with gold motifs, also with a top band in contrasting prune tone. The set of furniture was previously in blue and grey upholstered wood and was comprised of a suite of several armchairs and chair. It is now replaced by a suite of red velvet seats. The oval table covered in pleated prune silk, on which one set of miniature German doll's house playing cards are displayed on it.
Between the two curtains in mauve silk matching the pleated fabric of the table is a portrait of Marie Antoinette, not an original but a print which is hand-painted over in oil paint, it was given to us a present and you know sometimes, you like the person better than the gift so you end up keeping both! On the sides of the canapé (sofa) are standing two big Chinese vases, a definite leitmotiv of this house, since there are many others in different rooms. On two other walls are facing to each other two early 19th-century miniature paintings of mythologic scenes also in gilt frames. Also to be noticed, the ceiling lamp which is a sterling silver Chinese lantern.
There are several characters in the room: the nanny, who is an old Japanese woman that I like very much: it is not exactly a doll, it is a muff to hold a warm teapot handle. She is keeping company to a little girl doll, very concentrated in playing with her own doll. There is another character, a Chinese little boy, though it is not clear weather he is the doll of the doll or a real doll character (I hope you followed me on that one).
The Lady of the House's Bedroom
The second door of the middle room communicates with what we call the Lady of the house's bedroom, a comfortable and feminine room in the early 1900s Belle-Epoque-style. It has an elaborate bed with its original limpid sea foam green silk satin, accented with black velvet ribbon and a somewhat coquettish mauve satin trimmed curtains and matching bed dressing. On the bed is laid a fine white cotton crochet plaid (a coverlet), initially a human-scale napperon (in English you call it a doily or more formally an antimacassar).
Everything about this room is luscious and refined. The furniture includes a lovely cast metal 18th-century style console with an opened jewel box, a beautiful arm chair in creamy silk embroidered with gold thread, a gilt metal Louis XVI pastiche banquette. Other pieces and objects include a tea set on a tray with spoon and toast rack (the hosts seem to drink a lot of tea in this house), a hand mirror casually thrown on the bed in embossed tin foil paper (from "La Poupée modèle" again), a jewel box used as a bed table and a lovely English fireplace in gilt brass.
A very interesting detail is the ceiling, in pressed wood lacquered in cream which, unlike no other ceiling in the house, is extremely baroque, in the Belle Epoque-style, with cherubs and garland motifs. Wall decoration includes a collection of lady's medallions of diverse styles and origins, used as decorative paintings all around the head of the bed. Each time we find an interesting piece, we add it to the ensemble. There is also a precious hand-painted miniature of Marie of Prussia, princess then queen of Bayern, after the original by Joseph Karl Stieler and a beautiful portrait of a child dated 1883, which is painted porcelain bisque. The floor is in identical early linoleum that in the Chinese room, covered with grège-coloured carpets.