I found this old Architectural Digest with the photoshoot from Lee Radziwill’s Park Avenue terrace apartment. The cover story is from January 1982, just after she had moved two blocks over from Fifth Avenue, following her divorce from the Prince Radziwill. Lee has said that her two children had flown the nest with this move and it had made her so sad to be, finally, completely alone.
Since I just talked about this apartment, I thought you might enjoy seeing the original photographs as they appeared in AD, taken by the great Derry Moore.
She told the magazine that the move here – to this penthouse apartment – represented the opening of her life to clarity and simplicity. I suppose the apartment is simpler than the Fifth Avenue duplex with its deep reds that Renzo had helped design.
She said “I don’t belong to the school of interior design that believes in effacing every five years.” Hence, she brought many pieces to the new terrace apartment from Fifth Avenue, most notably the dining room furniture. After the Architectural Digest photographs, we’ll take a look at how she reused her possessions – from house to house.
The most important difference in the two NYC apartments dealt with the window treatments. Instead of curtains, Lee chose to use wood shutters throughout her new terrace apartment. “The unaffected quality of the shutters and the quality of the light as it streams through sets the mood of the whole space, I think.”
Before reading this story, I had never realize that the shutters were such an important part of the design of the apartment – but now, I do see that. Another important detail was the terrace. Because it was the penthouse, the terrace surrounded the entire apartment bringing in a garden like quality to the rooms – the plants were visible through all the windows.
The main sitting room was filled with a lovely Clarence House floral fabric. Paintings of dogs hung around the room and in the adjacent room, seen through the doorway. There was a very symmetrical design to the space. One large sofa was placed against the back wall and two smaller ones, sitting in the middle of the room, faced each other. A pair of club chairs flanked the marble mantel.
The Louis XVI chairs next to the doorway are very rare French antiques, signed by Jacob and which have been with Radziwill since London. On each side of the sofa are Louis XVI marquetry tables. You can see these tables in Lee’s famous London townhouse! There is also a fine bouillotte lamp with a tole shade, along with an gilt urn turned into a lamp. The table is coffee black chinoiserie. Next to the fireplace are two Regency red topped side tables that are also from her London townhouse.
The two paintings along the back wall are a set of 19th century works by James Ward of a boar hunt. Lee spent years collecting this set and they were hung in the living room of the Fifth Avenue apartment. I’m not sure where they hang today, or if she still even owns them.
The view towards the terrace of the second smaller, floating sofa. The terrace does bring a very country feel to the apartment. Here – you can see how beautiful the neighboring building was.
A close up of the corner Louis XVI chair – which I had never noticed before in photographs, it is one of a pair! The wood frame chair is tufted in blue silk. Here is a close up of one of the matching side tables.
Another view of the corner chair – here you can see the charming tufted chair has exposed legs. It sits next to a Lyre desk and one of the tiger velvet stools from the Fifth Avenue apartment’s library. Lee uses this desk in her current NYC apartment. Not sure whatever happened to the corner chairs.
Through the doorway – the bronze giraffes are with Lee today, still, in her current Paris apartment. Notice the dog painting above the console – that is hanging in her NYC apartment library today.
And here, is the total picture of the dining room – finally! Usually this photograph is shown cropped like the cover. Here you can see the table and chairs with the tiger velvet from the Fifth Avenue Apartment. Also the black chinoserie chest is the same, as is the Bessarabian rug. Yet, the feel could not be any different – with the Clarence House wallpaper and the set of 19th century botanicals. Notice the dark green wood plant stand along the back wall. Remember, Patricia Altschul from Charleston had the same one in her dining room. All the house plants are so trendy, circa 1970s, yet they do enhance the country garden feel of the terrace apartment. What a beautiful room and what a pretty apartment. With just a little editing and updating, it would be perfect for today.
And finally, the last room is her bedroom, done in all garden green. The floor is painted white and green in the same pattern she has used since Turville Grange in England. The furniture came from Fifth Avenue – but all fabrics were changed. My favorite, beside the floors, is the wall clock – a Victorian antique. And I love that desk!
Finally, seeing all these pictures from the Architectural Digest pictorial – in their entirety – really proves how much Lee believes in what she says about keeping furniture more than the typical five years that designers specify. (Maybe in her world, back in the early 1970s – there was a five year rule, but today, that seems so drastic!)
Let’s take a quick look at how she reused her furniture, accessories and antiques throughout her life:
Here, is Radziwill’s Paris apartment today. The bronze giraffes from the Park Avenue terrace apartment grace the mantel. And notice the mirror, it moves from house to house. It’s interesting to see which pieces she has kept through the years. This fabric for instance – was first seen in the Hamptons. She also has this fabric in her New York bedroom. She said the little men follow her everywhere – she loves them. Le Manach.
Here, after Anthony and Carole’s wedding – she relaxes in her Hampton house - with its Le Manach toile fabric.
Her FIRST Paris apartment with the same fabric – wall to wall. I love the fabric like this, all over everything. I wonder why she didn’t do it like this in her new Paris apartment?
Rarely seen, this photoshoot was done in Paris before she decorated her apartment with the pinks and toiles. It looks so different!
In her first Paris apartment, the mirror is here, along with the giraffes and the bust – which she says reminds her of Anthony.
Another view from the first photoshoot of the Paris apartment, before the pinks and toiles. The giraffe and bust, as always.
Pieces that have moved from house to house: The bust on the mantel, the giraffes seen through the door, both sets of the side tables – all used throughout her lifetime. The dog painting above the console is seen below:
Here is the famous dog painting by Sir Edwin Landseer and the same Regency side tables seen in almost each apartment, including the one above from Architectural Digest. This is the library from her present NYC apartment.
The signed Jacob French chairs, the Bessarabian rug, the red top Regency tables all moved to the Park Avenue penthouse from this, the Fifth Avenue duplex.
Fifth Avenue: The wood marquetry French tables from the original London apartment flank the fireplace. The mirror is still used today in her NYC apartment. The series of boar paintings moved to Park Avenue.
Today: NYC apartment. The signed Jacob French chairs, now in white. The Lyre desk acts as a console behind the sofa. The mirror – seen again. The same rug? Probably.
Here in her first London apartment in the 60s, you can see the French marquetry side table and the Regency side table – both sets of tables must have been some of her first purchases.
After the living room was remodeled, you can see the French marquetry side table used here. These Louis XVI chairs were used in the Fifth Avenue apartment living room.
Radziwill used ideas from the earliest bedrooms over and over again. Here in Turville Grange, painted by Mark Hampton, is her bedroom with the painted wood floors.
In the Fifth Avenue apartment, she used the same painted floor design, along with the botanicals from Turville Grange. All this furniture moved to the Park Avenue apartment.
In another picture from her Fifth Avenue apartment bedroom – you can see the Louis XVI corner chair she used in the Park Avenue apartment. Here is covered in the floral fabric and in the terrace apartment it is tufted in blue silk. You can see the botanicals and the painted floor pattern rather well in this photo.
The same chair – corner, tufted, on Park Avenue. Close up of the side tables used since London. Close up of the bust. Just lovely!!!
The Park Avenue apartment with the same furniture as Fifth Avenue. She also used the same painted pattern on the floor as she had since Turville Grange. There is nothing wrong with repeating what you like. I suspect that Lyre back chair came as a set with the desk, which she separated. Perhaps that was a set she inherited from her parents.
The gorgeous set of botanicals first show up in the garden room at Turville Grange in England. This is the room which looks so much like the Park Avenue terrace apartment.
Next, we see them in the Fifth Avenue apartment master bedroom. There appears to be more of the botanicals here. I would do anything to own a set like these!!!
The prints turn up again in the terrace apartment dining room.
Edited down, they are here in the first Paris apartment photographed by Elle Décor. They are perfectly hung here.
And finally, the botanicals landed here, in her current Paris apartment. I wonder where the smaller ones are? Perhaps in another room? I would have hung the middle section of the prints lower – closer to the sofa. They seem a little high – which is a very uncharacteristic misstep for Radziwill. Not sure she has really ever made a misstep in decorating before that I can think of! She is a wonderful decorator! I love her style and just can’t get enough of it.
By contrast, her sister Jackie Onassis didn’t seem to update her apartment much. Perhaps because she got sick right at the time it needed updating, or perhaps she didn’t care to update it often, like Lee, her apartment was a bit dated looking when photographs were taken for the auction.
Jackie’s apartment was filled with beautiful French antiques – more so than Lee’s. There are photographs of her apartment in the 70s and 80s where it was decorated and trendy looking – but all that changed in later years. Oh no….I feel a new post coming on!!!!
OK, first, though, back to the regular schedule next post!!! Discovering this old Architectural Digest through me off schedule.