Pausaland Revisited

 

Churchill’s Favorite Villa Lives on in Dallas

(Or: How Wendy Reves Moved House)

By Marianne Almquist
Originally published, October 1992, Finest Hour No. 75How do you recreate a legend? Not easily: yet the Dallas Museum of Art has done precisely this in its recreation of six rooms from the celebrated Riviera villa La Pausa, home of Wendy and the late Emery Reves.


How do you recreate a legend? Not easily: yet the Dallas Museum of Art has done precisely this in its recreation of six rooms from the celebrated Riviera villa La Pausa, home of Wendy and the late Emery Reves. Mrs. Reves, Fellow and Trustee of ICS/United States, and her late husband were longtime friends of Sir Winston Churchill, their frequent house-guest in the late 1950s. Many pleasant days spent at the villa led Churchill to refer to it as “Pausaland.”Emery Reves, Hungarian by birth, was a political journalist, author, publisher and financier. He formed the Cooperation Press in Paris in the 1930s, forming a lifelong association with Winston Churchill, among other world statesmen and journalists, whom he contracted to write for his syndicated service. Later, as Churchill’s literary agent outside the UK, he negotiated the sale of rights to The Second World War, A History of the English-Speaking Peoples, and numerous new editions of earlier Churchill books. Reves purchased the foreign language rights personally.

Emery Reves, Hungarian by birth, was a political journalist, author, publisher and financier. He formed the Cooperation Press in Paris in the 1930s, forming a lifelong association with Winston Churchill, among other world statesmen and journalists, whom he contracted to write for his syndicated service. Later, as Churchill’s literary agent outside the UK, he negotiated the sale of rights to The Second World War, A History of the English-Speaking Peoples, and numerous new editions of earlier Churchill books. Reves purchased the foreign language rights personally.In remarks made at opening ceremonies of the Reves collection in Dallas, Martin Gilbert, Churchill’s official biographer, praised Emery Reves for his “astute suggestions regarding style, format, clarity, content and titles” of The Second World War and A History of The English-Speaking Peoples.

In remarks made at opening ceremonies of the Reves collection in Dallas, Martin Gilbert, Churchill’s official biographer, praised Emery Reves for his “astute suggestions regarding style, format, clarity, content and titles” of The Second World War and A History of The English-Speaking Peoples.The duplication of La Pausa consists of

The duplication of La Pausa consists of the entry hall, great hall, grand salon, library, dining room and bedroom. A series of hallways and connecting rooms includes additional display areas for the Reves collection of decorative and fine arts donated to the Dallas museum. Of special interest to the historian is the room containing Churchill memorabilia.Named The Wendy and Emery Reves Collection, this 11,000 square foot area was designed by the renowned architect Edward Larabee Barnes to contain the Reves’ dazzling treasure of Impressionist paintings, works on paper, Spanish and Middle Eastern carpets, Venetian glass, rare Chinese export porcelain, silver pieces, European iron and woodwork and early Renaissance and 17th century European

Named The Wendy and Emery Reves Collection, this 11,000 square foot area was designed by the renowned architect Edward Larabee Barnes to contain the Reves’ dazzling treasure of Impressionist paintings, works on paper, Spanish and Middle Eastern carpets, Venetian glass, rare Chinese export porcelain, silver pieces, European iron and woodwork and early Renaissance and 17th century European furniture. The 1,400 piece collection was bequeathed to the museum by Mrs. Reves to honor the memory of her late husband. The decorative arts wing which incorporates this gift was opened to the public in late 1985.

The La Pausa recreation in Dallas derives its unique appeal (about 25,000 visitors each year) from the fact that the furniture, carpets, art and decorative accessories are arranged with few exceptions exactly as they were in the villa before making their journey to Dallas. The drama of air-lifting this vast collection from France to Texas, including delicate negotiations with French bureaucrats reluctant to relinquish their patrimonial claims to the Impressionist art, makes a cliff-hanging tale in itself.

Photographs of the rooms taken at the villa were used by the Dallas Museum of Art staff to reassemble the collection once again in the new wing. Mrs. Reves was closely involved in the entire process, with many trips to Dallas to add her final touches in displaying the collection; she pronounced the reborn villa’s rooms, especially the library, “uncanny.”The legend of La Pausa, situated on a high bluff overlooking the Mediterranean on the Cote d’Azur, begins with a Gallic tale describing the olive grove as a resting place for Mary Magdalene when she fled Jerusalem following the Crucifixion. A chapel on property adjacent to the villa, named Our Lady of La Pausa, was erected to commemorate this legend.

The legend of La Pausa, situated on a high bluff overlooking the Mediterranean on the Cote d’Azur, begins with a Gallic tale describing the olive grove as a resting place for Mary Magdalene when she fled Jerusalem following the Crucifixion. A chapel on property adjacent to the villa, named Our Lady of La Pausa, was erected to commemorate this legend.Our narrative moves ahead many centuries to the late 1920s when the Duke of Westminster, Churchill’s beloved friend Bendor, sailed the Riviera coastline on his yacht, the White Cloud, accompanied by his mistress, fashion designer Coco Chanel. Coco had expressed a desire to own a home on the Cote d’Azur. In 1927 Bendor purchased the five-acre tract near the village of Roqueburne, Cap Martin, as the site for Coco’s villa. Robert Streitz, a young architect whom they had befriended, was asked to design and build the house.

Our narrative moves ahead many centuries to the late 1920s when the Duke of Westminster, Churchill’s beloved friend Bendor, sailed the Riviera coastline on his yacht, the White Cloud, accompanied by his mistress, fashion designer Coco Chanel. Coco had expressed a desire to own a home on the Cote d’Azur. In 1927 Bendor purchased the five-acre tract near the village of Roqueburne, Cap Martin, as the site for Coco’s villa. Robert Streitz, a young architect whom they had befriended, was asked to design and build the house.Coco involved herself in the drafting of plans, the construction and the interior design, all done in her signature beige hues. As construction proceeded and on-site decisions were required, she would leave her Parisian fashion house and make a one-day round-trip on the famed Blue Train to the Riviera to confer with Streitz. One specific request from the new chatelaine called for the duplication of the large stone staircase from her childhood orphanage home in Aubazine, France. This same monk’s staircase has been faithfully reproduced once more in Dallas.

Coco involved herself in the drafting of plans, the construction and the interior design, all done in her signature beige hues. As construction proceeded and on-site decisions were required, she would leave her Parisian fashion house and make a one-day round-trip on the famed Blue Train to the Riviera to confer with Streitz. One specific request from the new chatelaine called for the duplication of the large stone staircase from her childhood orphanage home in Aubazine, France. This same monk’s staircase has been faithfully reproduced once more in Dallas.

Coco’s affair with the Duke ended in 1930, but the villa was hers and she continued to live there throughout World War II after closing her couture business when the Germans overran Paris. She occupied the villa less frequently in the years following the war. In 1950 Coco decided to re-enter the fashion world in Paris and placed La Pausa on the market. Emery and Wendy Reves now enter our story.A peripatetic couple, Emery and Wendy had lived in several European capitals since 1949. Wendy had longed for a permanent home and when she learned of the sale of Coco’s renowned villa she and Emery literally took the next train for Monte Carlo. One look and Wendy convinced Emery that they had found their home. After lengthy negotiations, including an interview with Madame Chanel, the purchase was consummated and the renovation of the long-neglected villa began in 1953. This time, Wendy was construction supervisor. She oversaw all details including refinishing of furniture pieces which the former owner left in the home.

A peripatetic couple, Emery and Wendy had lived in several European capitals since 1949. Wendy had longed for a permanent home and when she learned of the sale of Coco’s renowned villa she and Emery literally took the next train for Monte Carlo. One look and Wendy convinced Emery that they had found their home. After lengthy negotiations, including an interview with Madame Chanel, the purchase was consummated and the renovation of the long-neglected villa began in 1953. This time, Wendy was construction supervisor. She oversaw all details including refinishing of furniture pieces which the former owner left in the home.Wendy and Emery now had a place in which to entertain their friends and to display and enjoy their expanding art collection. The restoration was nearing completion in late 1955 when, following a dinner with Sir Winston at Lord Beaverbrook’s nearby villa, Emery extended a luncheon invitation to Churchill. Emery informed Wendy at breakfast the next morning that he had invited Churchill for lunch — that day! The indomitable, gracious and plucky Wendy rose to the occasion and the rest is history. Sir Winston fell in love with his surroundings. He stayed until 6 p.m. ‘The Man Who Came to Lunch” returned as a house-guest in January 1956 for the first of many lengthy visits. Over the next four years, Churchill stayed at the villa for a total of thirteen months.

Wendy and Emery now had a place in which to entertain their friends and to display and enjoy their expanding art collection. The restoration was nearing completion in late 1955 when, following a dinner with Sir Winston at Lord Beaverbrook’s nearby villa, Emery extended a luncheon invitation to Churchill. Emery informed Wendy at breakfast the next morning that he had invited Churchill for lunch — that day! The indomitable, gracious and plucky Wendy rose to the occasion and the rest is history. Sir Winston fell in love with his surroundings. He stayed until 6 p.m. ‘The Man Who Came to Lunch” returned as a house-guest in January 1956 for the first of many lengthy visits. Over the next four years, Churchill stayed at the villa for a total of thirteen months.Wendy and Emery assembled a household staff, including gourmet chefs, to enable them to entertain Sir Winston and to welcome his family and friends as well. Every detail of hospitality was arranged by the capable hostess. A guest suite of two bedrooms sitting room and bath was provided. In words of deep affection for his hosts, Churchill wrote Clementine, “they have devoted themselves to my comfort in every conceivable way.” As Wendy has remarked, “Sir Winston never had a Black Dog day at La Pausa.”

Wendy and Emery assembled a household staff, including gourmet chefs, to enable them to entertain Sir Winston and to welcome his family and friends as well. Every detail of hospitality was arranged by the capable hostess. A guest suite of two bedrooms sitting room and bath was provided. In words of deep affection for his hosts, Churchill wrote Clementine, “they have devoted themselves to my comfort in every conceivable way.” As Wendy has remarked, “Sir Winston never had a Black Dog day at La Pausa.”Sir Winston’s pet bird, a budgerigar named Toby, had free run of the house. The bird partially nibbled the dust cover of a first edition volume of the English Speaking Peoples which Churchill planned to present to his hostess. This prompted him to dedicate the book “To Wendy from Winston and Toby.” The opened book, with evidence of Toby’s misdeed, is on display in Dallas, where a scattering of colorful feathers flutter across the inscription page.

Sir Winston’s pet bird, a budgerigar named Toby, had free run of the house. The bird partially nibbled the dust cover of a first edition volume of the English Speaking Peoples which Churchill planned to present to his hostess. This prompted him to dedicate the book “To Wendy from Winston and Toby.” The opened book, with evidence of Toby’s misdeed, is on display in Dallas, where a scattering of colorful feathers flutter across the inscription page.

The Library was one of Sir Winston’s favorite rooms. He staked out a comfortable spot on the sofa while correcting proofs of his History of the English Speaking Peoples. The shelves around the walls, overhung with glorious Impressionist art, were filled with art books and first editions of Churchill’s many works. Some of these volumes now fill the shelves in the Dallas library recreation. The brandy snifter, etched with the initials WSC which Wendy commissioned for her guest, can be seen next to him in an accompanying photograph.As the visitor views this room in the museum today it is natural to imagine Churchill sitting there with his host, Emery, discussing editing and publishing details of forthcoming books.

As the visitor views this room in the museum today it is natural to imagine Churchill sitting there with his host, Emery, discussing editing and publishing details of forthcoming books.

To commemorate the publishing of Closing the Ring, Volume V of the War Memoirs, Wendy commissioned Van Cleef and Arpels to create a cigar case for Sir Winston which is on display in the Churchill room. The lid contains miniature replicas of the covers of the six-volume work, with titles inscribed on each.Surrounded by so much art and natural beauty at La Pausa, Churchill was inspired to take up his brush. His easel was placed in the dining room on rainy or chilly days, but during pleasant weather it was carried to the gardens or the olive grove overlooking the Mediterranean. Wendy would often arrange floral bouquets from the garden for Sir Winston to paint. He also copied a Cezanne floral still life, which hangs in the memorabilia display room.

Surrounded by so much art and natural beauty at La Pausa, Churchill was inspired to take up his brush. His easel was placed in the dining room on rainy or chilly days, but during pleasant weather, it was carried to the gardens or the olive grove overlooking the Mediterranean. Wendy would often arrange floral bouquets from the garden for Sir Winston to paint. He also copied a Cezanne floral still life, which hangs in the memorabilia display room.Churchill wrote Clementine, ‘I am taken through a course of Monet, Manet, Cezanne and company by my hosts. I am in fact having an aesthetic education with very agreeable tutors.”

Churchill wrote Clementine, ‘I am taken through a course of Monet, Manet, Cezanne and company by my hosts. I am in fact having an aesthetic education with very agreeable tutors.”The display cases of Churchill memorabilia have considerable historical and artistic appeal. Four Churchill paintings done while visiting the Riviera and presented to the Reves are hung here. The viewer’s attention is directed to “The View of Menton and Italy from La Pausa,” painted in 1957. Churchill subdued his palette in selecting serene blues and greens for this tranquil landscape. In addition to the copy of the Cezanne still life, there are two treescapes of the Riviera coastline.

The display cases of Churchill memorabilia have considerable historical and artistic appeal. Four Churchill paintings done while visiting the Riviera and presented to the Reves are hung here. The viewer’s attention is directed to “The View of Menton and Italy from La Pausa,” painted in 1957. Churchill subdued his palette in selecting serene blues and greens for this tranquil landscape. In addition to the copy of the Cezanne still life, there are two treescapes of the Riviera coastline.A Limoges china breakfast set, designed and commissioned by Wendy for Sir Winston’s personal use, depicts a replica of the yellow and green French “Medaille Miitaire” on the coffee cup. Other pieces on display include a specially designed cigar ashtray and holder for Churchill’s use at the dining table, photos, letters and, of course, copies of his books which played a prominent role in his association with Emery. All these items are a testimonial to the celebrated house-guest whose every comfort was provided and whose company was welcomed.

A Limoges china breakfast set, designed and commissioned by Wendy for Sir Winston’s personal use, depicts a replica of the yellow and green French “Medaille Miitaire” on the coffee cup. Other pieces on display include a specially designed cigar ashtray and holder for Churchill’s use at the dining table, photos, letters and, of course, copies of his books which played a prominent role in his association with Emery. All these items are a testimonial to the celebrated houseguest whose every comfort was provided and whose company was welcomed.One of the most touching mementos is a note written to Wendy in November 1960 in which Churchill says, “The months I spent at your charming house were among the brightest in my life,”

One of the most touching mementos is a note written to Wendy in November 1960 in which Churchill says, “The months I spent at your charming house were among the brightest in my life,”The dining table is set today just as it once might have been, awaiting the arrival of statesmen and celebrities who joined Sir Winston to partake of the Reves’ extraordinary hospitality. The long list includes Field Marshal Viscount Montgomery, Anthony Eden, French President Rend Coty, the Duke of Windsor, Konrad Adenauer, the beloved “Prof” Frederick Lindemann, Prince Rainier and Princess Grace of Monaco, Aristotle Onassis and Noel Coward. An open invitation was extended to Clementine, the children and their families, who visited from time to time.

The dining table is set today just as it once might have been, awaiting the arrival of statesmen and celebrities who joined Sir Winston to partake of the Reves’ extraordinary hospitality. The long list includes Field Marshal Viscount Montgomery, Anthony Eden, French President Rend Coty, the Duke of Windsor, Konrad Adenauer, the beloved “Prof” Frederick Lindemann, Prince Rainier and Princess Grace of Monaco, Aristotle Onassis and Noel Coward. An open invitation was extended to Clementine, the children and their families, who visited from time to time.

The Impressionist art collection includes forty-one major works by such artists as Van Gogh, Cezanne, Renoir, Gaugin, Bonnard, Toulouse-Lautrec, Courbet, Monet, Manet, Pissaro and Vlaminck. A stunning pastel by Rodin hanging in the entry hail is representative of the quality of the works hanging elsewhere in the exhibit.The belle chambre, a bedroom-sitting room where ladies retired while gentlemen enjoyed brandy and cigars in the dining room, is filled with rare furniture made of lacquered wood, papier mache and mother of pearl inlays. This room especially has Wendy’s personal touch and is a tribute to her fine collector’s eye.

The belle chambre, a bedroom-sitting room where ladies retired while gentlemen enjoyed brandy and cigars in the dining room, is filled with rare furniture made of lacquered wood, papier mache and mother of pearl inlays. This room especially has Wendy’s personal touch and is a tribute to her fine collector’s eye.Also of note is a pair of magnificent 17th century marquetry cabinets in the grand salon, a gift from Emery to Wendy on her 50th birthday. Emery Reves had been a collector since his early journalistic days in Berlin in the 1930’s before he fled the Nazis. He carried on detailed correspondence over the years with gallery owners, auction houses and art historians. Wendy had been an antique collector since her career days in New York City before she met Emery.

Also of note is a pair of magnificent 17th-century marquetry cabinets in the grand salon, a gift from Emery to Wendy on her 50th birthday. Emery Reves had been a collector since his early journalistic days in Berlin in the 1930’s before he fled the Nazis. He carried on detailed correspondence over the years with gallery owners, auction houses and art historians. Wendy had been an antique collector since her career days in New York City before she met Emery.

In the 1960s Emery and Wendy began to consider plans for the ultimate beneficiary of their extensive collection. Several proposals had been suggested but no final decision had been made before Emery’s death in 1981. A former curator of the Musee le Chateau Versailles, Gerald Van der Kemp, was a friend of the Reves and also of several Dallas Museum of Art officials. Following Emery’s death Van der Kemp brought Wendy and representatives of the Museum together and negotiations began immediately.Wendy, a native of Marshall, Texas, had become acquainted with Harry Parker, then DMA director, in 1977 when he and a group of museum members were planning a tour of European art collections. A visit to La Pausa had been scheduled but later cancelled due to Emery’s failing health. Now in 1982 the Dallas Museum of Art and Mrs. Reves had crossed paths again.

Wendy, a native of Marshall, Texas, had become acquainted with Harry Parker, then DMA director, in 1977 when he and a group of museum members were planning a tour of European art collections. A visit to La Pausa had been scheduled but later cancelled due to Emery’s failing health. Now in 1982 the Dallas Museum of Art and Mrs. Reves had crossed paths again.

The Museum was in the midst of construction of its new facility in downtown Dallas and the timing was such that it was possible to incorporate the villa recreation with plans for the Decorative Arts Wing. Construction on the Reves Collection was begun before final documents were signed and the last export hurdles in France had been cleared. It is a testimonial to both the Museum and to Mrs. Reves that they all proceeded on the faith that the Collection had indeed found its final home. The DMA successfully completed a campaign to raise six million dollars necessary to design, build and maintain the wing.Mrs. Reves in her generosity, and the Dallas Museum of Art staff with its expertise and dedication to authenticity, have added a new dimension to the artistic enrichment of the museum and its public. The museum visitor experiences the personal appeal of each piece collected by Wendy and Emery Reves at La Pausa for their pleasure and that of their friends. Wendy’s gift now makes it possible for many more to enjoy the recreation of La Pausa in its new home in Dallas, Texas.

Mrs. Reves in her generosity, and the Dallas Museum of Art staff with its expertise and dedication to authenticity have added a new dimension to the artistic enrichment of the museum and its public. The museum visitor experiences the personal appeal of each piece collected by Wendy and Emery Reves at La Pausa for their pleasure and that of their friends. Wendy’s gift now makes it possible for many more to enjoy the recreation of La Pausa in its new home in Dallas, Texas.

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