Anne Madden and the late Louis le Brocquy, two of Ireland’s most important artists, lived full time in Dublin from 2000, when they returned from a long exile in the south of France. They bought their first house in Dublin in 1978, and used it as a pied-à-terre but, when the adjacent house came on the market in the early 1990s, they made an offer and with the help of architect friend John Meagher, knocked the houses together and redesigned the interior.
“Here we were in dirty old Dublin in a one-storey house, instead of a much bigger villa in sunny France, and yet it has the same feel,” Madden says. The house is light and decorated with their own art, sculptures, and tapestries, and those of their friends too. Anne Madden describes her interiors style as putting the emphasis on “placing and spacing – like putting a big painting on a small wall”.
The furniture in the house looks well thought out, juxtaposing old and new, but Madden says, it’s “a hotchpotch of Chilean, colonial French, Georgian and Edwardian, some pieces heirlooms, others acquired over the years.” She adds, “It’s a fluke that all the pieces work so well together, although it’s very important to know what should go where.” The main living area is a combination of modern – an original Mies van der Rohe Barcelona coffee table and two cantilevered leather chairs – and antiques, including a Victorian sofa reupholstered in white leather, draped with a black and white Chilean poncho, a George Hepplewhite antique desk and a simple rattan sofa.
Barry Flanagan and Anthony Caro’s sculptures sit on a George II sideboard, and an elegant side table, “La Table aux chats”, by Diego Giacometti was a gift from the artist. Madden continues to paint at a studio near her house, but on summer days has lunch in the garden, which is small but planted with flowers and shrubs. Overlooking the garden is a conservatory filled with books and magazines – the perfect place for tea.
The gilt mirror in the drawing room came from an antiques shop in Dublin. The tapestry is from Louis le Brocquy’s Táin collection (1969-1999), ink drawings illustrating Thomas Kinsella’s celebrated translation of the Irish epic.
The dining table and chairs are by Eero Saarinen and the mirror was bought in the 1950s at a French flea market.
The Victorian sofa is upholstered in white leather. The Barcelona coffee table is by Mies van der Rohe. The Desk is by George Hepplewhite.
The tapestry over the bed is “The Cherub” by Louis le Brocquy, 1952. Anne Madden designed the rugs as well as all the furniture in the bedroom. The sculptures in front of the bed are by Anne Madden, made by a process known as cire perdue.
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