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Dalsace-Chareau: The Maison de Verre, an Icon of Modern Architecture

Published on , by Laurence Mouillefarine

Annie and Jean Dalsace are famous for commissioning their extraordinary Maison de Verre (Glass House) from architect Pierre Chareau (1883-1950). A book by their grandson reveals their close bonds and shared passion for the artists of their time.

Courtesy Marc Vellay Dalsace-Chareau: The Maison de Verre, an Icon of Modern Architecture

Courtesy Marc Vellay

In the 1920s, you needed great openness to the avant-garde to build a modernist house with a glass façade set among 18th-century buildings in the heart of the Faubourg Saint-Germain! Annie and Jean Dalsace were even more daring in that they gave this legendary project to Pierre Chareau: an interior designer, and not even an architect. "This adventure arose from the friendship between two couples, the Chareaus and the Dalsaces," says Marc Vellay, the latters' grandson. Although he had already published a book on the Maison de Verre in 1983 with the Editions du Regard, he has continued to explore the family archives, photographs, account books and private letters, and now looks back on the affectionate ties between the clients, the designer and his wife. Through "comparative portraits", he evokes the painters, writers and musicians held in high regard by all the heroes of this adventure. So who were these bold clients? She, Anna (or Annie), née Bernheim, came from a Jewish family that made a fortune in real estate development. The graceful young girl took piano lessons, and at the same time posed for the subtle portrait painter Jacques-Émile Blanche. Her tutor at home was an Englishwoman,…
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