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A Rare Parisian Work by Robert Mallet-Stevens Asks $3.9M

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Photos: Proprietes Parisiennes

Though historically overshadowed by his famous contemporary Le Corbusier, Robert Mallet-Stevens was one of the most influential early modernists and his series of buildings on Paris' Rue Mallet-Stevens are regarded as some of the finest extant examples of French modernism in an urban context. Built for twin brothers and prolific sculptors Jan and Joël Martel, this magnificent studio is the most celebrated of those buildings, occupying a prized corner location. Despite a 2005 retrospective at the Pompidou Center that raised the profile of Mallet-Stevens' work, this sprawling 1,800-square-foot one-bedroom has been lingering on the market for a few years now. Certainly impractical for a family, the legendary building would make for an expensive architectural trophy at $2.9M.

? Historic photographs of Mallet-Stevens' work are limited, thanks in part to his request that his archives and records be burned following his death. A limited record of this particular house's 1927 completion survived thanks to photographs taken for Therese Bonney's Bonney Service, an architecture and design-focused illustration wire that supplied press photos to American newspapers. These press photos (above) captured Joël Martel standing in front of his glistening new home, along with a glamour shot of the studio's sweeping staircase, which has changed little in the intervening 86 years.

? Elsewhere in the 16th arrondissement, Mallet-Stevens built a towering fire house, his only public commission. Completed in 1936, the building served as both station and barracks, along with some family apartments arranged in a tower at the rear. The station is still standing today, a testament to Parisians' respect for the past, even as the once brilliant facade remains caked in a layer of urban grit.

? Until recently, some of Mallet-Stevens' most impressive rural works were similarly neglected. This country villa, completed in 1932 and altered by the architect in 1947, was built for Paul Cavrois, an industrialist from the city of Roubaix, near the Belgian border. Commandeered by the Nazis during World War II, the Villa Cavrois was reworked by Mallet-Stevens in the post-war years to accomodate Cavrois' extended family, but by the late 1980s, it was abandoned and soon ransacked. In 1990, the house was designated a historic monument; by 2001, the French government had purchased the property and begun restoration work. Set to open to the public later this year, the restored Villa Cavrois will show off the architect's then-futuristic vision of an amenity-rich household, with in-wall radio speakers, a vacuum system, and an intercom phone system.

Photos: Mobilier et Décoration/Art Deco Daily

? The architect collaborated frequently with the artists and sculptors of his day. Polish artist Tamara de Lempicka lived and worked out of another Mallet-Stevens studio in the 1930s. She kept the space strikingly minimalist (above), save for an upstairs bar designed by the artist's sister, an architect. De Lempicka threw storied parties in the studio, which further heightened her celebrity, and some say won her art much of its popularity.

· Robert Mallet-Stevens, Architect Artist Studio [Architecture for Sale]