Jeanne Lanvin’s bathroom

Armand Albert Rateau (1882-1938)
Paris, c. 1924-1925
Marble, bronze, glass, plasterwork and stucco
Gift of Prince Louis de Polignac, 1965
Inv. 39903, 39904, 39915, 39944 A-B, 39947
© Les Arts Décoratifs

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In 1920, the famous fashion designer Jeanne Lanvin asked the designer-decorator Armand-Albert Rateau to furnish her apartment at 16, Rue Barbet-de-Jouy in Paris. Rateau, who stood apart from his contemporaries, used his culture and imagination to create a highly personal decorative style encompassing classical and oriental influences and plant and animal motoifs. As he shared Jeanne Lanvin’s taste for quality and precious materials, she also asked him to manage her decoration agency on Faubourg Saint-Honoré. When her mansion was demolished in 1965, Prince Louis de Polignac, wishing to honor the memory of Jeanne Lanvin’s daughter Comtesse Jean de Polignac, suggested that the apartment’s fully furnished bedroom, boudoir and bathroom should be installed in the Musée des Arts Décoratifs. Rateau used marble, stucco and antique green patinated bronze for the bathroom. The sanitary fittings – washbasin, bidet – and two built-in cabinets are of beige Hauteville marble. The walls are covered with stucco; the bath alcove is decorated with a plaster low-relief representing a stag and deer in a wooded landscape. The beige, black and white Hauteville marble tiles on the floor form diamond patterns framed by white marble; a black marble path leads from the washbasin to the bath. The patinated bronze lights and faucets are shaped like pheasants, daisies and pine cones. The wall corner pieces are also made of bronze, as are the washstand and floor lamps. Rateau’s style reflects his taste for classical and Middle Eastern (especially Persian) art. The extraordinary luxury of this bathroom recalls the marble of classical and Turkish baths. Jeanne Lanvin took a particular interest in body care; alongside her activities as a fashion designer she created cosmetics and perfumes, including the famous Arpège, launched in 1927.

É. P.

Franck Olivier-Vial and François Rateau, Armand Albert Rateau, un baroque chez les modernes, Paris, Éditions de l’Amateur, 1992.
Hélène Guéné, Décoration et haute couture. Armand Albert Rateau pour Jeanne Lanvin, un autre Art déco, Paris, Les Arts Décoratifs, 2006.

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