The historic Tony Duquette Studio was located at 824 North Robertson Blvd. in West Hollywood. Originally the building was constructed as a movie studio for the silent film star Norma Talmadge. The Duquettes purchased the building in the early 1950’s as a ruin and remodeled and restored the structure as their residence and studio. Picture here are the 16th century Spanish doors which were a wedding present to the Duquettes when they were married at Pickfair. These doors were the main entrance to the studio.
The entrance porch to the Tony Duquette Studio. The 16th century Spanish “elephant doors” are flanked by carved wooden horses from a palace in Chiang Mai Thailand and Duquette’s own lighted “Whale Vertebrae” standard lamps.
The “big room” at the Tony Duquette Studios. This room was 150′ long and 25′ wide with 28′ high ceilings. The room was furnished with the Duquettes’ collections of 17th, 18th and 19th century European and Asian antiques as well as their own works of art and furniture designs. Duquette built the stage at the end of the room in order to showcase sections of ballets, operas, and film costumes and sets. The stage was also used for the Duquettes’ own lavish entertainments as well as for dining.
The formal dining room at the Tony Duquette Studio was decorated with a Gobelin tapestry, 18th century red lacquered Queen Anne arm chairs, 18th Century Boiseries and an 18th century Austrian ceiling from the collection of William Randolph Hearst. The sofa was a gift from their friend Greta Garbo which Duquette overlaid with an Ocelot skin and silk pillows.
The treehouse room at the Tony Duquette Studios was built over the columned front porch using antique stained glass windows scavenged from Victorian demolitions on Los Angeles’ historic Bunker Hill. The large egg shaped leaded glass window was created by Duquette using two overdoors from the historic Metropolitan Opera House in New York City. The sofa is strewn with needle work pillows made by his friends to Tony Duquette’s designs. Duquette’s 1/8th inch scale model “The Primal Sun” sculpture hangs above the sofa.
The Big Room circa 1960 featuring the stage decorated with abalone panels, crystal chandeliers and a throne from the Chapultapec Palace in Mexico City. The chairs in the foreground are 18th century Venetian.
The bedroom at the Tony Duquette Studio was entirely marbleized in panels by Elizabeth “Beegle” Duquette. The 14th century Italian bed from the collection of the Baroness D’Erlanger was hung with natural linen and lined in blue cotton. The 18th Century Venetian statue of a courtier (one of Duquette’s prized possessions from the Baroness D’Erlanger was later stolen and has not yet been recovered).
Formally the dining room, Duquette in the 1970’s moved his office into this space using his collection of 18th century Venetian scenes, a Sheraton sofa covered in amethyst sail cloth and 19th century doors from Los Angeles’ historic Baker Block.
Featured in Duquette’s office circa 1970 was this 18th century Louis XV desk surmounted by a red and gold lacquered shrine from Burma. The 18th century French windows were brought from Paris by Duquette in the 1940’s.
The hall between the office and the new dining room served as a cabinet de curiosite to display the Duquettes’ many varied treasures. On the left an 18th century Holy Family made in ivory from Goa, India (later stolen and not yet recovered), ostrich eggs mounted in silver and religious reliquaries surround a golden jeweled monstrance. On the right swordfish snouts, stuffed birds and butterfly wings are set aganst a backdrop of 18th century embroideries. From the ceiling hangs a 19th century Waterford chandelier purchased in Ireland while Duquette was decorating Barretstown Castle for Elizabeth Arden.
The entrance hall at the historic Tony Duquette Studios was decorated with Chinese Chippendale chairs, an 18th century Portuguese colonial chest of drawers, blue and white Chinese porcelains, gold embroidered Chinese panels and lighted pagodas of Duquette’s own invention.
The big room at the Tony Duquette Studios circa 1980. The ceiling has been covered with Styrofoam “grapefruit packing cases”. Duquette designed the crystal chandeliers with very thin metal frames so that the crystals appear to be hanging in space. The double “Venetian” staircase was created by Duquette using 18th century Venetian carved and gilded architectural elements from a church. The carpets are silk Tabriz.
The seating group under the stairs included two brass and velvet sofas designed by Tony Duquette in the 1950’s, four 18th century Venetian arm chairs in coral velvet, lamp tables which Duquette created using Coromandel panels for their tops, surmounted by crystal boulotte lamps of Duquette’s own invention. The cocktail tables were made by Duquette using coral painted iron frames and abalone mosaic tops. On top of the cocktail table is Duquette’s “gold toad with emerald eyes”, a one of a kind sculpture.
“The Elsie de Wolfe Cabinet” created by Duquette in 1941 for the famous American decorator Elsie de Wolfe, Lady Mendl. Elsie de Wolfe left this extraordinary one of a kind piece of furniture to Duquette and he proudly displayed it in the big room at his Robertson Blvd Studio.
The big room at the Tony Duquette Studios looking down from the balcony.
The seating group under the “Venetian” staircase at the Tony Duquette Studios.
The Tony Duquette Studios circa 1960’s. In his “rich hippie” phase Tony Duquette redecorated the studio using electric street lights backlighted “petrified kites” of his own invention and installed a series of psychedelic light show machines, and black lights around the room to cast moving patterns in bright colors over the ceiling.
The new dining room circa 1980 at the Tony Duquette studio featuring a red lacquer standing Buddha from Burma. The table is set with a collection vermeil dishes and goblets, Georgian Silver and abalone shell soup dishes on an iridescent Thai silk cloth. Duquette’s centerpiece is made up of a collection of ceramic eggs purchased in the south of France, gold rats, birds, toads, and insects, votive lights in golden cups and flowering orchids.
This larger dining room was used by the Duquettes when entertaining more than 14 people or for overflow from the big room. The table is set with Duquettes’ collection of antique vermeil dishes, cups, and flatware on his signature leopard vinyl cloth punctuated by coral linen napkins. The centerpiece was made by Duquette using a gold plated armadillo holding a vermeil bowl full of pomegranates, and surrounded by a collection of brass whalers lamps. The chairs are 18th century Siamese planters chairs from the collection of Alice Larkin Toulmin. The walls of this room were upholstered in burlap and hung with Venetian paintings. The painting shown here represents Venetian firemen forming a pyramid. The 18th century Italian console holds an 18th century model of an Italian cathedral, rock crystal and two Tony Duquette-designed crystal candelabra on abalone encrusted bases. The 18th century gilt wood mirror reflects the 18th century Italian iron and crystal chandelier and is flanked by an antique English corner cabinet.
Tony Duquette was fascinated by this stuffed Argus bird which was owned by the Los Angeles Museum of Natural History. Insisting that he must own the bird the museum agreed to sell it to Duquette as long as he would buy all of their other stuffed birds. Duquette crowned the male Argus bird with an 18th century jewel and placed a gold collar at its neck. The much plainer female Argus bird is at the bottom of the case placed in front of a large branch of black coral. This lighted case was placed just outside Duquette’s office door where he passed daily.
Part of the collection of “Dead Birds” which were purchased by Duquette from the Los Angeles Museum of Natural History. Duquette took great pleasure in dressing this vast collection of birds some of which are shown above. Certain of Duquette’s friends received “Dressed Birds” with baroque pearls hanging from their beaks as gifts for special occasions.
When Tony and Elizabeth Duquette opened their studio in the early 1950’s they gave a white tie ball which started at 10 o’clock in the evening. Guests were treated to dancing, midnight supper, and three divertissements. These included two original ballets and a reading by Agnes Moorehead playing Sarah Bernhart as Phadera. Pictured above are some of the ballet dancers backstage at the Tony Duquette Studios wearing costumes and make up by Tony Duquette just prior to their performance.
Part of the Duquettes’ collection of vermeil decorations including an 18th century salt cellar in the form of a galleon, insects, fruit and toads. Duquette used these decorations to set his party tables and constantly moved them around the house creating “Tablescapes” which he called “Games of Chance”
The big room circa 1960’s looking towards the balcony. In his “rich hippie” phase Duquette decorated the balcony installing an iron and crystal pagoda of his own creation with a mirrored ball in its center as part of the overall light show in the room. The balcony was often used for dining, gambling, and people watching by special friends like Elizabeth Taylor, who Duquette invited to join him during parties.
Duquette’s original office circa 1950’s. His desk was an 18th century Louis XV ormolu mounted bureau plat.
A corner of Duquette’s original office at the old Studio featuring chairs by Robsjohn-Gibbings, a upholstered suede sofa of Duquette’s design and figural lamps which Duquette originally displayed at his unprecedented one-man exhibition at the Pavillon de Marsan of the Louvre Museum Paris. The large oil painting over the sofa depicting the Turks attacking the Moors is a cartoon for a tapestry in the Prado museum and was a wedding present to the Duquettes from the composer Vernon Duke.
Mrs. Duquette’s dressing room featured a 19th century glass doored Biedermeier cabinet, lined in blue felt and decorated with her collection of precious jewels. Note the trees in urns holding earrings and other bobbles. Tony lovingly called his wife Elizabeth “Beegle” because she had “the industry of the bee and the soaring poetry of the eagle”. There were also times when he called her “Beegle jewel fiend”.