The Incomparable Madeleine Castaing


The visionary life of French antiquarian and decorator Madeleine Castaing is one of remarkable distinction. Against the beat of moderism in the early and mid-twentieth century, she honed a style uniquely hers, a fine blend of Neoclassicism, Proustian Romanticism, and pure ingenuity. Along with her adored husband Marcellin they were pillars at the center of the artistic community of Montparnasse and became intimate friends of such avant-garde artists and writers as André Derain, Fernand Léger, Jean Cocteau, Pablo Picasso, Blaise Cendrars, and especially Soutine, who painted the below portrait after 6 sittings with Madeleine. He painted two others that are known and he so much loved her country house in Leves that he had a room all his own there. In the below portrait Soutine captures her regal chic sophistication and commanding presence, notwithstanding her seemingly vulnerable impatience.

Chain Soutine, Madeleine Castaing, Oil on Canvas, 1929, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Her designs reveal an eccentric and magical mind, unrelenting, and endlessly envisioning and re-envisioning. She worked well into her eighties and died in 1992 at age 98. Her revolutionary, glamorous, and whimsical legacy is now referred to as style Castaing, and makes reference to her iconic designs that feature leopard carpeting, opaline blue "coolie" lampshades, and an eccentric mix of Neoclassical furnishings ranging from the English Regency to Napoleon III.

Madeleine Castaing has given us endless inspiration here at Artemisia Inc, so it is only fitting and that we pay tribute to her work below, most especially her love affair with her use of leopard print.

Let's start with Madeleine Castaing's designs for Jean Cocteau's Milly-la-Foret Maison, below:

The walls and ceilings, not sparing the lampshades are covered in this gorgeous, enveloping leopard print.

Cocteau's creative full spirit nestles perfectly against the backdrop of leopard print.

A red and black trimmed, tufted canopy bed, lined on the interior with the timeless, lux, leopard print. So glamorous and inviting!

And then there was the love of her life, her country home in Leves. The house captured her imagination as a child and she purchased it many years later. She recalls, "Just after we got married, I talked to my husband about it and we decided to go back to those places from my childhood. We climbed over the wall. I was tremendously disappointed: the property was a wasteland taken over by brambles. But there was an abandoned house with a tree growing through the roof. I decided that I would own that house; I wanted it with all my might."

She instantly threw herself into the task of transforming Leves into the house of her dreams. Below is a selection of her bold transformations.


This gorgeous MC monogrammed stool is such a jewel!

If you're interested in learning and seeing more, Emily Evans Eerdmans has a wonderful book "The World of Madeleine Castaing" you should check out.


  • Thank you for this posting also check out for the link to the documentary film by Christopher Flach

    Posted by Christopher Flach on November 27, 2015

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