Ahead of the November auctions of Impressionist art at Christie’s New York saleroom, Luxury Defined highlights six exemplars of late 19th-century architecture that heralded the transition to modernism and brought forth the Impressionists: the glorious Belle Époque. Beginning in 1874 in Paris and led by seminal artists Paul Cèzanne, Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Camille Pissarro, and Edgar Degas, Impressionism focused on the reality of light, shadow, pure color and form—and its perception in the mind. Impressionism spread across the cultural landscape, from art to classical music, while the architecture of the day underwent its own dramatic revivals and experiments. Timeless in their grandeur and repose, these homes mark the end of the old epoch—and the coming of the new.
Neo-Gothic Château in Upper Normandy, France
This magnificent Neo-Gothic château is surrounded by more than 66 acres of beautiful private parkland, woodland, and farmland in the heart of the Epte Valley of Upper Normandy, just 45 miles from Paris. The residence was built in 1870 by a student of French Gothic Revival architect Eugène Viollet-le-Duc. The owners have preserved the architectural integrity of the château, its outbuildings, and glorious gardens, graced with verdant lawns and majestic centennial trees. The château’s ornate facade encloses 8,181 square feet with 30 grandly appointed rooms. Interior finishes include beautiful, coffered ceilings, wood and mosaic-tiled floors, decorative stonework, and monumental carved-wood doors. Contemporary updates include a swimming pool, pool house, and tennis court. Several outbuildings offer additional living space for guests or extended family.
The Manor in Guérande, Loire-Atlantique, France
The Manor has a picturesque setting in the Guérande countryside, a landscape painted by Impressionist artist Ferdinand du Puigaudeau. This magnificent circa-1880 château underwent a painstaking restoration that took five years to complete. The 5,382-square-foot interior has 10 bedrooms (including three suites), grand reception rooms, a formal dining room, and a contemporary kitchen. The 21st-century creature comforts include underfloor heating, smart-home automation, and a heated swimming pool. A three-car garage, boat shed, and 2.5 acres of private grounds are additional highlights. The scenic coastal resort town of La Baule is just five minutes’ drive.
Historic Landmark District Mansion in Savannah, Georgia
This grand Italianate mansion in Savannah’s National Historic Landmark District was featured in the 2013 film Savannah. Built in 1874, it was restored to retain its period character. Surrounded by wrought-iron fencing, the three-story stucco home has a classic raised stoop entrance and double doors leading to an inviting foyer with parquet floors, twin columns, and a grand staircase. The grand parlor features bay windows, a fireplace with gilt mirror, pocket doors, crystal chandeliers, and ample room for entertaining. Italianate doors lead out to one of three covered porches. The chef’s kitchen has been renovated with high-end stainless-steel appliances, granite countertops, custom cabinets, a spacious eat-in/sitting area, brick fireplace, and an English pub-style bar. The second floor houses three bedrooms, two full bathrooms, and a spacious sitting room. The third floor comprises an en suite bedroom with two fireplaces, two walk-in closets with custom-carved wooden doors, and a full bathroom, and opens to a covered veranda. The second bedroom has a full bathroom with a soaking tub and spectacular city views. The garden level apartment has an en suite bedroom and its own private entrance as well as access from inside the main house. Additional highlights include an elevator, three-car garage, and an adjacent workshop with storage area.
Italianate-Style Château in Bordeaux, France
This stately 10-acre property near the center of Bordeaux is surrounded by vineyards on three sides. The centerpiece is an Italianate-style château, built in the late 19th century and restored for the 21st. The magnificent limestone and brick facade opens to 18 beautifully appointed, light-filled rooms. The grand foyer has a stone floor and sweeping stone staircase with a decorative wrought-iron bannister. The reception rooms have parquet floors and high ceilings, oversized windows, and French doors overlooking the grounds. There are 10 en suite bedrooms, several with dressing rooms and private terraces. Further appointments include a catering kitchen, offices, a library, wine cellar with tasting area, and two staff bedrooms. The secluded, parklike grounds include a swimming pool and pool house.
Victorian Cottage in Hanover, Virginia
Wilton is a restored Colonial Revival cottage on more than 46 private acres in Hanover, Virginia. The traditional white clapboard main house was built in 1880 and sensitively restored throughout. Its Victorian period details remain beautifully intact, from the covered porch entrance to the wide-plank wood floors, high ceilings with chandeliers, exquisite Victorian wallpaper, and hand-carved wood finishes. Oversized windows and French doors bring in the light and views of the leafy grounds. Just beyond the main house is a matching guest house, once the office of the local country doctor. A pump house and smoke house complete the suite of 19th-century buildings. The barn is a modern addition, and includes four box stalls, a wash bay, workshop, hayloft, and tack room with laundry facilities. Adjacent to the barn is a paddock and four-bay storage building suitable for trucks, tractors, and farming equipment. This idyllic sanctuary, far removed from the cares of the world, is yet less than 10 minutes from I-95, 30 minutes from Richmond, Virginia, and two hours from Washington, DC.
Californie Villa in Cannes, France
This majestic Belle Époque villa is in a private enclave of Cannes, close to Boulevard de la Croisette. The multi-level residence, with views of the Bay of Cannes, underwent a sensitive restoration, retaining all its 19th-century details and finishes, with the addition of 21st-century amenities. There are seven light-filled bedrooms, three full bathrooms and one half-bathroom, all with soothing neutral paint schemes and contemporary fixtures. A bilevel terrace offers a wide stone staircase down to a sun worshipper’s pool deck, with a soaking pool and a full-length pool. The property offers more than 8,000 square feet of living space surrounded by nearly an acre of wooded grounds and private gardens.