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11 March 2009

Villa Fontanelle: Versace's chateau de Guermantes

I must admit that when the Sotheby's sales catalogue of the contents of Gianni Versace's Lake Como house arrived last week, I didn't tear it open. In fact, it took a good few days to get around to it and even then I approached it with reluctance.

Much to my surprise and delight, instead of being assaulted by brash clear colors and over-the-top gilt and gilt-mounted furniture suites, my eyes took in a restrained - although very high style - villa that was right up my alley (although maybe not so many nudes).

Built by Lord Charles Currie who was so enamoured by Italy that he took up Italian citizenship, the house is in the neoclassical style but as seen through the prism of an English mi'lord. Versace set out to furnish it sympathetically with Empire period and inspired pieces.

Two Views of the Salon

My interest was further piqued by the introduction - unsigned but presumably by Donatella - which notes that Gianni called it "a Proust house", one full of memories, sensations, and feelings, which of course made me think of Madeleine Castaing who even kept of photo of the author in her library . Who knows - perhaps she sold Versace some of his Napoleon III pieces?!


The Library


A Landing - a Rex Whistler-esque moment of whimsy



Amusing. Either that little boy is two feet tall or the mustachioed painter has giantism.


The Dining Room

Smashing. The dining table below is loosely based on a table in the bedroom of Caroline Murat, the Queen of Naples, in the Elysee Palace, and now in the Trianon (estimate: $8,900 - 14,800)

Another dining room....



Gianni's Bedroom


I think I like the wall-covering - what do you think?


A Guest Bedroom
The painting on the wall could inspire some home projects...



To die for. Truly an earthly paradise. Especially since George Clooney is probably nearby.

10 comments:

Lisa Borgnes Giramonti said...

It's beautiful! I especially love the two views of the salon and the library. And of course, the garden at the edge of the lake.

How nice of you to post those photos for those of us who don't have the catalog!

Emily Evans Eerdmans said...

So glad you enjoyed it, Lisa! I didn't even post the best pictures of the salon - for scanning reasons - it's really a jaw-dropper...

pve design said...

Oh, my word, I feel as though I just drank one of those teeny tiny cups of super-charged Italian "espresso" and it has given me a boost. I love how italians pronounce "ikspresso" -
Imagine waking up with that view!

Rose C'est La Vie said...

Interesting to see this restrained side of a highly flamboyant (that's being polite for vulgar!) designer.
I find it too rhetorical myself, but with your formidable knowledge of design and historical styles I can see why you are far more enthusiastic than me.

Emily Evans Eerdmans said...

RCLV, I think some of my enthusiasm comes from being so surprised as to how un-"flamboyant" the decor is. If somehow I became the owner of La Fontanelle, I would definitely redecorate. The garden however I wouldn't touch...

Rose C'est La Vie said...

Thank you for replying to me, Emily. I wonder if you would be interested in my latest post about another flamboyant Italian, The Countess of Castiglioni.

Toby Worthington said...

Quite surprising really, and not at all what one would associate with G.V.
Those terrazzo floors are rather wonderful~were they there always?

Emily Evans Eerdmans said...

The floors are really splendid throughout, aren't they, Mr. Worthington? Not sure if they are original, but it reminds me of how easy it is to forget the impact of floors and ceilings in the decoration of a room.

Micah Christensen said...

Thank you for your post and wonderful blog. I visited the G.V. auction preview at Sotheby's. As a painting collector and historian, I was most interested the canvases for sale. I was surprised at his approach to collecting art.

From what I could tell, he was less interested in the quality of the work--many of the paintings were by anonymous or third-tier artists--and more interested in how they fit into his overall ambiance. He seemed to collect according to color and style. As a result, I was disappointed in the quality of individual works. One may admire his eye for overall consistency, but he didn't seem to be the kind of passionate collector that deliberately sought out particular works or understood the inherent value of a work.

Emily Evans Eerdmans said...

Hi Micah, A thousand thank yous for this "on the spot" reporting. As you know, those auction house photographs can be very misleading! What you say about his being most concerned with an overall effect makes sense, although you'd think as a couturiere, he would have a more refined eye for detail and quality....