Heritage

Inside the Lost World of the Ultimate Paris 'It Couple'

Boniface de Castellane and Anna Gould reigned over French capital during the Belle Èpoque.
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Boniface de Castellane and Anna Gould were a celebrated couple in Paris during the Belle Èpoque. Boniface, known as Boni, was a marquis who could trace his ancestry back to 11th century France and Anna was the daughter of Jay Gould, one of the wealthiest men in America. Boni and Anna were married in 1895 and moved into the Palais Rose, the enormous mansion Boni had built in Paris, inspired by the Grand Trianon at Versailles.

The couple filled their mansion with Louis XIV art, furniture, and antiques. The Palais Rose was also said to have had the most sumptuous staircase in the city, made entirely of marble and inspired by the staircase that led to the Royal apartments at Versailles. Boni also entertained in the style of King Louis XIV—the 21st birthday party that he threw for Anna took place in the Bois du Boulogne and was modeled after a multi-day ball that the monarch held in 1664.

The staircase of the Palais Rose ©All rights reserved

 

However, Boni's extravagances only lasted for a decade. Anna filed for divorce in 1906 (it was rumored that her husband had spent millions of dollars of her money on furnishing and building the Palais Rose), and Boni was forced to leave their home. The house was demolished in 1969, and few pictures of the mansion or the couple's legendary collection remain.

The couple's prized paintings and antiques were scattered among their descendants, and some pieces that once decorated the rooms of the Palais Rose have ended up in museums like the Frick Collection and the Louvre.

But a portion of Boni and Anna's collection has remained private. The paintings, objects d'art, and furniture that were inherited by the couple's granddaughter Diane de Castellane were kept closely guarded in her grand Parisian apartment and until this year were unseen by the public for decades.

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An 18th century LOUIS XVI MARQUETRY COMMODE BY JEAN-HENRI RIESENER, estimated to sell for between $330,000 and $530,000

The art and antiques that de Castellane inherited from her grandparents, from a Fragonard painting to Sevres porcelain and 18th century Boulle furniture, will be sold by Christie's on March 6th during an auction titled "Boniface de Castellane and Anna Gould: A Way of Life."

The interior of Diane de Castellane's apartment ©Christie's Images Ltd, 2017

Though the majority of the 277 lots in the sale are from Boni's beloved Louis XIV period, more personal contemporary items that belonged to the couple are also up for auction. The pieces, including a silver and glass toilette set, Van Cleef & Arpels evening bags studded with diamonds, and elaborate Cartier clocks, provide a glimpse at a grand lifestyle of a bygone era.

A Cartier ART DECO 'JARDIN JAPONAIS' DESK SET, estimated to sell for between $1,100,000 and $1,600,000

A PAIR OF 18TH CENTURY SEVRES PORCELAIN vases, estimated to sell for between $86,000 and $130,000

This story originally appeared on Townandcountrymag.com.
* Minor edits have been made by the Townandcountry.ph editors.

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Emily Selter
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