A Parisian apartment discovered after 70 years…
It’s just like a movie: a woman dies at an age of 91 years in 2010 and her family discovers that she rented an apartment in Paris. This is the beginning of the discovering of an abandoned apartment in the 9th arrondissement in Paris…
Marthe de Florian
Madame de Florian was born in Paris, 9 September 1864 under the name Mathilde Heloise Beaugiron. She was a courtesan (demimondaines) with many famous lovers: Georges Clemenceau (72nd Prime Minister of France), Pierre Waldeck-ROusseau (68th Prime Minister of France), Paul Deschanel (11th President of France), Gaston Doumergue (13th President of France) and the Italian painter Giovanni Boldini.
She gave birth to two sons. Henri Beaugiron (1882-1883) died at the age of three months. Her second son, also called Henri, was born in 1884 and died at an age of 66 years at the address of the abandoned apartment, 2 Rue de La Bruyere in the 9th arrondissement, near the Pigalle Red Light District. It is speculated, that his father was one of the lovers of Madame de Florian, Auguste Albert Gaston Florian Mollard, a banker. Perhaps that is the reason why she has chosen the name “de Florian.”
Madame de Florian died in 1939 in the apartment that was witnessed by her son Henri. Her grand daughter, Solange Beaugiron (1919-2010), who locked the apartment in 1942, fled to the South of France and she never returned. Even not when her father Henri died in 1966. It is say, that Solange Beaugiron was the famous writer Solange Bellegarde.
During all those years, she paid the rent of the flat, what was a real time capsule when investigators opened the door and stepped into a wonderfully preserved apartment of the Belle Epoque (1870-1914). Among all the dust they did another amazing discovery: a painting of the famed 19th century painter Giovanni Boldini: Marthe de Florian in a beautiful pink muslin dress.
The painting was painted in 1889 when she was 24 years old. She was the apartment’s owner’s grandmother who was a socialite and theater actress during the Belle Époque. She was also the muse of Boldini. She was identified by the love letters and notes between Marthe de Florian and Boldini, which were found in the apartment.
This painting had an asking price of €253,000, when it went up for auction and has been sold for €2.1 million!
Story of the investigator
The story of one of the investigators how it was to discover such a beauty of apartment:
“Under a thick film of grime, investigators found themselves transported to early 1900s Paris during the height of the Belle Epoque, when the city was celebrating its cultural renaissance and de Florian’s grandmother was the talk of the town. Books and newspapers lined the shelves, gold curtains draped the windows, and a luxurious dressing table held hairbrushes, perfumes, and candle stubs that seemed to await the return of a very glamorous noblewoman. Against floral wallpaper and wainscoting, a stuffed ostrich draped with a shawl stood above two pre-war stuffed animals—a very retro-looking Mickey Mouse and Porky the Pig. The formal dining room, with a low-hanging chandelier over the table, wood stove, and stone sink, was still fully stocked with glassware and pots and pans.”
(Source: The Daily Beast)
Imagine finding such a treasure…
When I saw the photos for the very first time, I imagined how she lived in this apartment. I studied her belongins of the photos.
The furniture, the paintings, the curtains, the accessories her dressing table. Old perfume bottles, a brush, a mirror..as if they could return any time to get ready for the evening.
A real time capsule which is very interesting to learn more of living during the Belle Epoque.
Note of the writer: I do not own the copyright of these images and I will be willing to remove them if requested by the owner.