When actress and socialite Marthe de Florian’s granddaughter fled to the South of France from Paris at the start of WWII, she left behind her grandmother’s picturesque, lavishly furnished apartment.


Although payments were maintained for decades, no one returned to the apartment until 2010, after the granddaughter’s death, when auctioneers came to take inventory of the estate. What they found was a preserved physical snapshot of a particular time, its state only altered by spiderwebs and dust. One of the experts who entered the apartment to inventory the treasures within said it felt like “entering Sleeping Beauty’s castle.”


Among her abandoned belongings was an enchanting portrait of de Florian painted by renowned Italian artist Giovanni Boldini when she was around 24 years old. The origin and validity of the painting were proved by a stash of notes and love letters in the apartment, which also indicated that de Florian and Boldini engaged in a romantic affair. Baldwin’s wife also wrote about the painting in her book, which dated it at 1898.


Marthe de Florian by Giovanni Boldini

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