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Happy Birthday, Evangeline Bruce!

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Tall, regal, intelligent, and mysterious, Evangeline Bruce was one of America’s greatest “ambassadresses.” As an author, diplomats daughter, and the wife of a diplomat as well, she combined the best of what she inherited to make a life filled with graciousness, efficiency and beauty. As author of Napoleon and Josephine: An Improbable Marriage, she found the year 1795 in Paris to be “…the most exciting year in history…” as Paris was jubilant over the end of the terror. Evangeline and David Bruce began their married life in Paris in 1947 in an apartment that would link them to the revolution, in an ironic way. They lived on the rue de Lille in the apartment that belonged to the Princess de Lamballe, loyal friend of Marie Antoinette. Poignantly, Evangeline Bruce died on the 200th anniversary of that “most exciting year.”

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I have two scrapbooks in my collection owned and composed by Evangeline Bruce. These books came to me from the antiquarian bookdealer Kinsey Marable. The books were prepared in a casual manner and include photos of rooms she liked: black and white snapshots if her own homes and those of others. On each page, styles repeat themselves over and over again- a testimony to the clearly established point of view and personal style of their creator.

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Here, (above) in a showhouse I designed for Kip’s Bay, Evangeline’s desk takes center stage. (Below) these very exuberant chairs, Chinese in the gothic taste, were once owned by Nancy Lancaster. The photo resides in Evangeline Bruce’s scrapbook, as she, coincidentally, was the chairs’ next owner. Years later, I received a call from Gerald Bland and Kinsey Marable. They said in unison, “Charlotte, we have a pair of chairs that you should own” And, here they are… who could say no?

Happy Birthday Evangeline!

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