I was pleased to see 19 pages dedicated to my subject in Louis-Geraud Castor and Willy Huybrechts’ coffee table book “Eyre de Lanux, An American Decorator in Paris”. The pleasant peek inside Alice’s friendship with Eyre was a little light, but it did reinforce this ongoing sketch that Alice left us with… unrequited loves, clandestine affairs and unnoted generosity.
I studied the text of the book, hoping for deeper clues into their relationship and plunged back into my own “Eyre” file of letters between the two women to discover a deep friendship, authentic adoration, and a shared interest in travel. I had the delicious opportunity to read the Eyre de Lanux archive, housed at the Archives of American Art (twice!)and their scholarly Journal described the cache as:
“A remarkable assemblage of personal ephemera constituting something akin to…“an archive of feeling”. In diaries, letters photographs and sketches we find an archive of emotion that documents moments of intimacy, sexuality and love stretching from the 1920s to 1970s.”
Between Alice sending Eyre a monthly allowance, she also sent short story anthologies, ‘postals’ from her trips around the world, newspaper clippings, sandals from Venezuela and a permanently pleated nightgown which was the newest thing in fashion. A favorite sentiment expressed in a 1964 letter, to be repeated by Alice several times over during a flurry of correspondence,
“Would you perhaps like to arrive in Florence by train, meet me, spend two days there, and motor down, not hurriedly to Rome, then time to rest of pleasantly and then the plane to Athens? – perhaps one week there and the plane back to Rome again, then where? Then a swim on one coast of the other – Is there anything nice on the Adriatic Coast? Shouldn’t one go and see? I think we will also have many swims during our week in Greece.”
And in Eyre’s exquisitely ornate dark felt pen script:
“If I can come to you at the perfect moment it, for me will be a happy thought.” And “I am tempted to say yes…what kind of clothes does one need? Where does the cruise leave from? I am deep in my book – but I remember the regret of not going to Russia with you!” Love, indeed, Eyre.