La Villa-Atelier Montsouris,
a mansion for an artist.

 

In 1927, the City of Paris sells by auction an irregularly shaped site, running along Parc Montsouris Avenue, in the 14th district in Paris. This site had been vacant since 1885.

 

Parc Montsouris Avenue, now named René Coty Avenue, with a wide median tree planted strip, stretches from Denfert Rochereau Place to the vast wavy Montsouris Park.

 

Jean-Julien Lemordant, a painter and an architect, was born in Brittany; he became a hero of the Great War. He decided to buy the site to build his “painter’s fancied/dreamed house”. Lemordant had studied architecture in Rennes at the School of Fine Arts and was wounded during the war: he lost his eyesight. He nevertheless decided to design by himself the plans for his “mansion for a painter”. The plans were drawn and realized under his supervision by Jean Delaunay, an architect.

 

Lemordant imagined a simple and functional house, with large and harmonious proportions. He was looking for “no uselessness, but real comfort”.

Two years after the site selling by the City of Paris, on July 25th 1929, the artist’s house was inaugurated by the French Secretary of State for Fine Arts. The main structure of the building strongly reminds of the stern castle on the Breton ships. The new building proudly sticks out along the avenue as a French liner ready to face sea.


Plain and elegant, the harmony of the building is perfect. The volumes of the upper floors, the projections of the house front create an element of surprise and are the basis of its originality. Many windows have been opened on the front wall of the house, everything is designed to give way to air and light.


The concrete framework is conceived to resist the pressure of the soil towards the street. The outside woodwork is made of mahogany and oak; all the inside ones are made of mahogany.

Lemordant also drew the furniture and ornamental accessories for the house. The dining room, in a pure Art Deco style, can still be seen at the Fine Arts Museum in Quimper (Brittany).


Lemordant’s innovating mind is also present in the inner equipment. The different floors are connected by a lift; a telephone network is available in the different parts of the house. On the ground floor, the garage is conceived to park at least one wide car. The boiler room, the kitchen and the children’s room are situated on the first floor. The kitchen is connected to the dining room through a service lift.

A smoking room-lounge is located before the dining room, which opens on to a 14 meters long terrace – this one been suitable to become a garden.

 

A wide glass roof allows the studio to be bathed in light. The main bedroom, on the upper floor, has its own terrace, overlooking the avenue.

 

Jean-Julien Lemordant was intoxicated by teargas during the 1968 street protests; he died aged 89. He bequeathed the house and all his works to his love of his life Marguerite Cazenavette. The house now belongs to her children, Henri and Noëlle Naudet.