47 blvd. Suchet: Anaïs Nin’s house of dreams

47 blvd Suchet today
Click to enlarge

In the summer of 1929, during a time of particular success on the part of Anaïs Nin’s banker husband, Hugh Guiler, the couple rented a lavish apartment at 47 boulevard Suchet, in a fashionable (and extremely expensive) part of Paris. Guiler would later say that this move was among their most foolish, but that may be due more to the Wall Street crash, which would occur only a few months later, prompting their move in 1930 to the less expensive Louveciennes, just outside of Paris.

Nin was inspired to make the Suchet apartment a work of art. In her Early Diary, Vol. 4, in July 1929, she says: We moved Wednesday, July 17. House not finished and full of workmen. Until Sunday I never sat down except for my meals, which we ate at a pension almost next door… First night—just the bed made. No hot water, or telephone, or gas, or light. I was worn out but cheerful and hungry, and I felt a great sense of power because the whole thing was done with order and a thousand obstacles were overcome… Physical exhaustion but mental elation at the feeling that I am using my force, fully at last, on tangible work… On this homemaking I am using imagination, sense of color, of form, of comfort, of beautiful living… I have learned to mix colors and create some which surprise the painters. I have designed furniture, have quickly caught on to the proportions, etc. I can figure out how much wood it takes to make a closet (and I never passed an arithmetic class!). The men who have to work for me are surprised that I understand all their trades, that I never change my mind, and always know exactly what I want.

Recently, a blog post by Yolanda De Leon commented on Nin’s sense of décor, and in it is an excerpt from Early Diary 4, which says: While sewing gold thread on a sapphire-blue pillow I thought about the spiritual value of Decoration. Through it, I realize, I have gained in assurance, audacity, authority… Besides all the keen, profound delight I get from an assembling of color, stuffs, wood, and stone, I feel the joy of a visibly beautiful work. The immense studio is already painted, turquoise blue with more Veronese green than usual so it will harmonize with the blue and gold fireplace. The large Hindu lamp is hung. While the sawing of wood, hammering, and painting are going on, I make pillows or I paint room designs on the paper I should be using for that famous Novel.

After reading this passage, it occurred to me that I had seen some of these very drawings Nin mentions, in a folder that was tucked away at her Silver Lake house in Los Angeles. Nin is often criticized, sometimes without substantiation, for embellishing events in her diary. However, this is one case where the evidence seems to bear out her claims. I have scanned a few of these drawings (sometimes collages interspersed with photos) along with pictures taken inside the apartment. One can plainly see Nin’s visions put into action in the décor of this elegant apartment occupied for only a year.

By August of 1930, the effects of the crash forced Nin and Guiler to Louveciennes, the future “laboratory of the soul.” Nin’s comments reflect her mixed feelings: Yesterday we signed the lease for our House in the Country! I came home, and as we sat talking about it, my eyes wandered off to the turquoise walls, so high and spacious, and I began to cry…intolerable pangs of regret for my beautiful, beautiful place. Yet the other house is lovely, in a different way…

Nin concept (click to enlarge)

Nin concept (click to enlarge)

 

Interior of Suchet apt (click to enlarge)

Interior of Suchet apt (click to enlarge)

 

 

Nin's concept for bedroom (click to enlarge)

Nin’s concept for bedroom (click to enlarge)

Anais Nin in 1929, Blvd. Suchet

Nin's desk at Suchet (click to enlarge)

Nin’s desk at Suchet (click to enlarge)

 

 

Nin's concept of fireplace (click to enlarge)

Nin’s concept of fireplace (click to enlarge)

For more information on the Suchet apartment, refer to Britt Arenander’s Anais Nin’s Lost World: Paris in Words and Pictures, 1924-1939, which includes a detailed description and an interactive map.

To see a sample or to purchase Anaïs Nin’s Lost World, click here.

To view a sample interactive map drawn from the book, which includes 47 blvd Suchet, click here.

Visit our Anaïs Nin e-bookstore here.

Comments

3 Responses to “47 blvd. Suchet: Anaïs Nin’s house of dreams”
  1. When I received notice of this post I had to breath deep and wait zen-fully for the perfect quiet moment to read and view these blue prints. I am so inspired by her arabesque aesthetics and colors. These blue print inspired me to design a pair of Arabesque earrings. Stay tunned for a link.

    These blue prints are absolutely wonderful. They are like magic. Like a dream… Anais was a wonderful designer . I love reading her diary excerpts in which she so meticulously describes her methods and feelings that accompany her dwellings and her designs.

    Love the blog , addicted. I cant wait to buy a kindle and leisurely read this blog where ever I go!

  2. I have also just found a picture of Anais in the bed she designed, and will post it soon. Thanks for the kind comments–it was your blog that got me started in the first place! 🙂

  3. Rebecca says:

    Wonderful, splendid article! The blueprints are spectacular! I read both of the blog posts and they delighted me to no end. I’m obsessed with the Moroccan styling and that bed is to die for! Just tweeted links.

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