Brunschwig & Fils new ad featuring Albert Hadley’s library for Brooke Astor, which The New York Times called “one of the most admired interiors of the 20th century,” signals a return to classic fabrics and Bessarabian rugs.
Some years ago Albert Hadley told New York Magazine how the Astor library came to be. “I said, ‘Brooke, you don’t have anything fake in your life except this room,’ ” Hadley was referring to the faux Louis XV wood paneling that had been done in the early thirties which Sister Parish had left intact during her first decoration of what was then Brooke’s living room. Hadley’s comment provoked Astor and she asked him what he would do. Hadley said it could be both classic, to complement the architecture, and new. “She loved that,” Hadley recalled. “Anything that was up-to-date, she got it right away.”
Hadley described a magnificent library to house Vincent Astor’s rare books which were lying in storage. Hadley’s famous red lacquered shelves required ten coats of paint to achieve their richness. The Astor library became the high point of Hadley’s career.
Brunschwig & Fils La Portugaise is being featured in the fabric company’s new advertising campaign. The version with a dark brown stripe was used in Brooke Astor’s library, Brunschwig & Fils’ website shows only the black version. Image courtesy Brunschwig & Fils.
Asmara’s Hermitage Bessarabian pile rug was inspired by an antique Bessarabian rug I saw in a Sotheby’s or Christies auction more than 8 years ago. This Bessabian rug had a striking similarity to Brooke Astor’s Bessarabian rug, but I did not know this at the time. Years later one of our dealers said to me “I love the Brooke Astor library Bessarabian rug in your collection” and I looked it up and was surprised at the remarkable resemblance. I felt a good Bessarabian rug should be more architectural and less floral, so I asked artist Elizabeth Moisan to draw several architecural medallions in the Bessarabian style which can be seen in Hermitage rug. The Hermitage Bessarabian rug is also available as a needlepoint rug. Image © Asmara, Inc.
In Sotheby’s Brooke Astor’s estate sale, the Bessarabian rug was replaced by a cold Victorian needlepoint rug. The library has lost much of its charm even though the other two elements, the red lacquered walls and the fabric are still present. This shows how important the Bessarabian rug was to the success of Hadley’s design. Image courtesy The New York Times and Sotheby’s
A detail of the Victorian needlepoint rug that replaced the handsome Bessarabian rug. I have been unable to find any information on why the Bessarabian rug was replaced by a less suitable needlepoint rug. Image courtesy Sotheby’s.
Aaron Shikler’s portrait of Brooke Astor.
Sister Parish had selected La Porugaise fabric for the sofa and the antique Bessarabian rug for the drawing room that later became a library. The faux Louis XV wood paneling Hadley spoke about was left unchaged by Sister Parish. Hadley retained La Portugaise, the Bessaian rug and the fireplace. Image courtesy The Devoted Classist..