Important Design

Important Design

View full screen - View 1 of Lot 121. Commode from the Villa Windsor, Paris, France.

Property of an Important California Collector

Syrie Maugham

Commode from the Villa Windsor, Paris, France

Auction Closed

December 8, 09:48 PM GMT


70,000 - 100,000 USD

Lot Details


Property of an Important California Collector

Syrie Maugham

Commode from the Villa Windsor, Paris, France

circa 1920

painted wood, original mirrored glass, marbled paper

34½ x 59 x 27 in. (87.6 x 149.9 x 68.6 cm)

Collection of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Paris, acquired directly from the artist
Sotheby’s New York, The Duke and Duchess of Windsor: The Public Collections, September 11, 1997, lot 83
Private Collection, New York
DeLorenzo Gallery, New York, 2000
Giuseppe Gazzoni, Bologna, Italy, 2001
DeLorenzo Gallery, New York, 2005
Acquired from the above by the present owner, 2010
Richard B. Fisher, Syrie Maugham, London, 1978, p. 72 (for a period photograph of the model in Syrie Maugham’s drawing room at 36 Chesham Place)
Adam Lewis, The Great Lady Decorators: The Women Who Defined Interior Design, 1870-1955, New York, 2009, p. 173 (for a watercolor of the model by Mark Hampton)
Pauline C. Metcalf, Syrie Maugham: Staging Glamorous Interiors, New York, 2010, pp. 102 (for a watercolor of the model by Francis Rose, 1939), 107 (for the above mentioned photograph), 134 and 139 (for the present lot illustrated in the Villa Windsor)

The present lot has a distinguished royal provenance, coming from the Parisian home of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. Following Edward VIII’s abdication of the British throne and his marriage to Wallis Simpson in 1937, the newly titled Duke and Duchess of Windsor left Buckingham Palace and eventually settled in the Bois du Boulogne. The 19th-century limestone villa offered equal parts luxury and comfort to suit their retired life. As described by the Duke, “Our Paris house is… a formal place, but the entertaining we do there… is completely informal.” 

Simpson, considered an icon of fashion and arbiter of taste, took it upon herself to redecorate the home in her own manner. Working with French interior design firm Maison Jansen and famed decorator Stephane Boudin, she achieved a blend of historicism and modern design sensibility. The fourteen rooms featured 18th-century Rococo alongside 20th-century neoclassical furnishings, complemented by a collection of Meissen porcelain and fine art; Simpson also repainted many of the rooms in her signature shade of “Wallis blue.”

The present commode by Syrie Maugham was a perfect acquisition for the setting, documented in the villa’s entrance hall under its grand staircase. The leading British interior decorator of the period, Maugham is perhaps best remembered for her chic all white rooms, but this piece features a green faux-marble finish that coordinated with the villa’s palette. Adorned with lion heads and floral swags, its George II-style decoration also fit neatly into the design scheme. This piece is considered to be the same commode or one of a pair that was photographed in Maugham’s studio in London, and was one of several pieces that Simpson bought from her for her home. Simpson called the designer “a delightful person to work with, although almost too formidable, brooking no interference.” 

Following the deaths of the Duke and Duchess, the Villa Windsor was purchased by Mohamed Al-Fayed. He subsequently sold its furnishings in a landmark auction at Sotheby’s after the deaths of his son Dodi and Diana, Princess of Wales, with proceeds going to charities in their memory. The commode’s return to auction presents a rare opportunity for collectors to acquire an ornate work exemplary of Maugham’s oeuvre with extraordinary provenance.