Dallas Museum of Art - Reves Exhibit

Wynnelle Russell was a small town girl from Hallsville, Texas.  Born in May of 1916, to David Lafayette, and Blanche Russell.  She modeled in the San Antonio, Texas area as a young girl.  At the young age of 17, married Al Schroeder, a West Point Graduate, together they had one son, Arnold Leon Schroeder Jr.  After her short marriage, she travelled to New York, and began modeling in 1939.  With her new location, and career, came a new name, Wendy.  The 1940’s brought her celebrity, gracing the pages of Vogue, and Harper’s Bazaar as a well-known fashion model.  There was a second marriage to Paul Baron, a pianist, conductor, and leader of a Big Band Orchestra bearing his name, in 1940.  The marriage lasted 6 years.
Wendy Russell, modeling. Source DMA

 Through social circles in New York, Wendy met Emery Reves, a famous literary agent and author of “Anatomy of Peace”, in 1945 a bestselling novel discussing the “World Peace Movement”, proposing a world order, and recording the horrors of WWII.  Reves literary client list included influential people;  Winston Churchill, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and Lord Montgomery.  Successful, and prominent, he captivated the beautiful Wendy, and became the love of her life.

Source DMA

Reves  adored beautiful things; art, antiques, and Wendy.  Together, the two  wandered the globe while acquiring treasures.  Paintings included in their personal collection of post-war impressionist, and impressionist include; Renoir, Cezanne, and Pissarro.   Ultimately, in 1953, Emery, and Wendy purchased La Pausa, Coco Chanel’s Mediterranean Villa. Included with the sale were some works of art, books, and furnishings.  Coco Chanel built La Pausa in 1927, as a refuge for she, and her then lover, The Duke of Westminster.  Chanel enlisted famed architect Robert Streitz to design the refuge in reflection of the French orphanage,  Aubazine Abbey, in Correze, France, where Chanel lived for six years as a young girl.  Elements of the Abbey can be seen recreated at La Pausa; the arches in the courtyard, the interior stairwell, the two story section built to resemble a tower at the Abbey.

Source; Abazine Abby

One of the windows at Aubazine Abbey, notice the interlocking of circles. Thought to be the inspiration for Chanel's interlocking "C".

Source; Lacorreze.com  The Abbey today, notice the similarities between the tower here and La Pausa.

The villa would be graceful, and stately; a courtyard entrance through archways, springing from atop Doric columns. The home built in a “U” shape possessed classic balance, a bright clay tiled roof, and a repeat of five small square windows; above the entrance, then again along the second story. Channel’s supposed favorite number, was five.   Chanel made visits back to Correze in an effort to capture details of the Abby, recreating them at La Pausa.  The Abby must have been a happy place for her,  a place of reflection, and of inspiration. 

Source; Sotheby's International Realty

Courtyard La Pausa, Source; Sotheby's International Realty

Chanel at La Pausa, source DMA

At the time that La Pause passed from Chanel to the Reves, it was in a bit of disrepair.  The Reves took care in restoring it to it's original beauty.  There, they held many a dinner party, entertained prominent guest, and opened their home to Winston Churchill, each summer.  Churchill spent the summer months penning his life's work, "A History of An English Speaking Peoples", with Emery.  He also painted away lazy summer days, in the gardens of La Pausa. 

Source; DMA  Winston Churchill, Emery, and Wendy Reves; at La Pausa

Source; Sotheby' International Realty, The façade Entry at La Pause, note the five windows

Recently, Mr. GDC had a business meeting in Dallas, I went along. On a lazy afternoon while Mr. GDC was in a meeting,  I walked the nine blocks from the hotel  to DMA for an afternoon of art.  As I rounded a corner there was an entrance, a beautiful architectural entrance, my heart raced a bit, I wondered what is this? Reading the guided tour information, picking up the supplied booklet I was amazed.  DMA has created a unique, and stunning experience for visitors to the museum, to not only visit the art, to view it as a “guest” in its original environment.   From room, to room, I was awe struck.  I had no previous knowledge of Wendy, and Emery Reves. Yet through the exhibit, became enchanted.  

Source; Winston Churchill, the library at La Pausa, DMA

Wandering into a small alcove, I was greeted with photographs of Winston Churchill, letters penned by Churchill to Wendy, and paintings, works by Churchill painted while he took holiday at La Pausa.  Churchill, a close friend of the Reves.  Emery assisted Churchill in publishing his life’s work “A History of the English- Speaking Peoples", much of the work written while at La Pausa. 

Source; personal photo of the library exhibit, DMA

The photo above is of the library exhibit at Dallas Museum of Art.  Upon the table are two antique brass candelabras, made into lamps.  Notice in the photo of Churchill above, one of this pair of lamps is shown near his left shoulder.  The feel of the exhibit is personal, intimate, a truly unique experience. 

Source, personal photo of DMA exhibit

Source, personal photo of DMA exhibit.

To the right of the fireplace; "The Seine at Chatou, Renoir, 1874

Source, personal photo of DMA exhibit

Above the fireplace one of a pair of sunburst clocks, owned by Chanel, hangs in its original location; both under Chanel, and the Reves' ownership

Source; personal photo of DMA exhibit

Another view of the library exhibit at Dallas Museum of Art.  The yellow sofa, clearly the same where Winston Churchill sat for the photo above.  The French style tapestry chair, is an early recliner, the back reclines by pulling rods out from the arms, a piece originally owned by Chanel, and used in her bedroom.

Source, personal photo of DMA exhibit

Source, personal photo of DMA exhibit

Above, "In The Studio, (Georges Riviere and Marguerite Legrand)",  Renoir, 1877, hangs just above an antique footstool.

Source, personal photo of DMA exhibit

The dining table, and chairs, original pieces owned by Chanel, then passed to the Reves. The long table located at the end of the dining room, a piece from Chanel, originally used as a desk by Chanel, and as a serving piece by Wendy.  

Source, DMA, Wendy Reves, painting by Graham Sutherland, 1978

Wendy, before passing, met with the curators of the Dallas Museum of Art, arranging for she, and Emery's collection of art, and antiques to be donated to the museum.  In the most interesting exhibit I have seen. The museum carefully, and artfully reconstructed La Pausa, within the Dallas Museum of Art. The unique exhibit, and manor of exhibiting the art, allows visitors the fantasy of visiting the villa.  For additional information on the history of the La Pausa exchange, Dallas Museum of Art published a book; "From Chanel to Reves; La Pausa  and Its Collections at the Dallas Museum of Art", available here through Amazon.


September, 2015 La Pausa sold once again, this time returning back to its origins, The House of Chanel purchased the home.  It is once again part of the Chanel empire.  For those of us in America, Dallas Museum of Art, has provided a rare opportunity, to visit the beautiful La Pausa in Dallas.  If you are near Dallas,  the exhibit is truly worth a visit.  An experience that will remain with me, always –

Wishing you all the best, until next time -


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