Pale Blue Moiré Silk-Lined Dressing Table designed by Maison Jansen for The Duchess of Windsor, 20th Century
The inverted breakfront top above a recessed drawer and cupboard, flanked by false-front panel doors with locking mechanism and opening to drawers and shelves, the brass knobs with entwined intials EW. Height 30 inches (76.2 cm), width 57 1/4 inches (145.4 cm), depth 23 inches (58.5 cm).
Wallis, Duchess of Windsor.
Sotheby's, New York, The Collection of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, February 20-26, 1998, rescheduled from the original sale date of September 11-17, 1997, lot 2575.
The Duchess of Windsor's dressing table is a most handsome example of Maison Jansen's level of 'care' for their premier clients. The tripartite elevation, with recessed central bay is a common form of table produced for numerous female clients, including First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy in her White House dressing room. Many such dressing tables produced by Jansen were decorated with trompe-l'oeil painting, with direct biographical references to the specific client. This example takes decoration to a higher lever, treating the table at which the Duchess applied her makeup as an exquisitely upholstered throne or dais. (An equally theatrical take on the unattainable 'throne' was created in the main floor library of the Bois de Bologne residence of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor - curtained, Turkish-style banquettes on a raised stage or dais.)
The rather unique feature incorporated in the fabrication of this dressing table is the false front panels with locking mechanisms that secured the drawers and their contents. Such a feature no doubt reflects the Duchess' great sensitivity for securement of her privacy. Indeed, such a mechanism seemingly defines the table as a modern version of the document or despatch box of State - where valuable documents would be kept from the peering eyes of spies or those deemed enemies of a monarch.
The pale blue moiré finish fabric represents the Duchess' favored color, which through the decades-long employ of Maison Jansen evolved from a NEAR Royal statement to a faint sky hue; the color softened as the client 'matured'.
Doyle would like to thank James Archer Abbott for his help in cataloguing this lot. Mr. Abbott currently serves as the Executive Director of the Lewes (Delaware) Historical Society. Among his publications are the books JANSEN (Acanthus Press, 2006), JANSEN Furniture (Acanthus Press, 2007), and a soon-to-be-released new edition of Designing Camelot: The Kennedy White House Restoration (co-authored with Elaine Rice Bachman; The White House Historical Association and Winterthur, July 2021).
C Property of a Private Collector, Greenwich, Connecticut
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