25 September 2017


No architect-interior designer-artist-connoisseur rivaled him.
Today that remains true.
In aesthetic circles, he is known, simply, as MONGIARDINO.

In Milan, a marble-paneled chimneypiece is actually reverse-painted glass.

CABANA, a magazine that appeared a little over two years ago, has seemingly been created within the magical world of Mongiardino.
It's no wonder.
The editor of CABANA, Martine Mondadori Sartogo, grew up in a house that was decorated (that hardly describes it) by Mongiardino. She sat spellbound, no doubt, as he visited and dined at the house—a Mongiardino acolyte of sorts.


CABANA is an island—a world unto itself in a sea of magazines, not unlike Mongiardino, a connection Mondadori Sartogo acknowledges.

Mondadori Sartogo and the editors of CABANA have opened the doors of Mongiardino created houses, still intact, lived in, and vibrantly alive, in a new book,  RENZO MONGIARDINO A PAINTERLY VISION. Photographer Guido Taroni scans these interiors taking in the whole, then with laser focus zooms in on those details that make a Mongiardino room a MONGIARDINO Room. Roomscapes, Mongiardino's only personally published book, according to the Cabana editor, stands as the ultimate anthology of his work. In her Introduction, she also writes about the lack of acknowledgment of his work and influence today.

Mongiardino rooms reverberate. His working over of every surface whether it was with textiles, references to Old Master paintings, or with his trompe l'oeil illusions, makes him the ultimate "master of illusion."

In Milan, Mongiardino, just another wall.

The Dining Room of a Milan Mongiardino work—in layers, a simple Laura Ashley fabric was the ground, over it a stencilled blue and green pattern, and an addition suggested by the master, years later— a collection of Imari. Twenty-five years of scouring markets for the plates resulted in a typical Mongiardino quilt of patterns, textures, and references to exoticism.

These close-up, tangibly tactile photographs, let us see Mongiardino's mastery.  The Grand Hotel, one of the few public spaces Mongiardino decorated teems with Proustian intricacies evoking une recherche du temps perdu.

The Grand Hotel, Rome

In Rome, a Mongiardino masterpiece
detail of the walls in the house's ground floor living room

The editors of RENZO MONGIARDINO A PAINTERLY VISION refer to this house in Rome, as one of his masterpieces. Restoring the ceiling and letting in natural light, allowed Mongiardino to orchestrate a living space below of complexity and refinement. With all its opulence, the designer coupled a floor of simple terracotta tile, notably without carpets, with lavish sofas in silk damasks and velvets. Equally intricate, the walls are carried out from floor to ceiling— with faux marble moldings & wainscoting, blue and white pilasters surrounded by painted floral motifs, faint pale apricot marble, Classical plaques, and finally, terminating into the vaulted ceiling.

With just enough text to set the scene, highlighting the most important aspects of each residence, the editors of the book step back and left Mongiardino's genius speak. In addition to this collection of these fifteen masterpieces, an essay by Francesca Simone about Renzo Mongiardino's friendship with contemporary, Lila De Nobili, noted costume and stage designer, offers insight into the man. He seems a man of reserve, contemplation, a student of history,  all reflected in his work—with its historical references, infinite minutiae (perhaps still unknown subtleties to anyone but Mongiardino, the artist how painted for him, and the families that live in these singular rooms). In addition, Umberto Pasti, Lee Radziwill, and Elsa Peretti add their remembrances of the friendships and professional relationships they shard with Mongiardino. Another treasure, a letter from Jacqueline Onassis to Mongiardino closes the book.

One hopes these divinely inspired rooms, houses, will continue to be maintained and preserved by generations to come, venerating Mongiardino's artistry.
While privately owned, these rooms belong to the world.

all images were provided by the publisher Rizzoli and used with permission


  1. ANYONE with GARDEN in HIS NAME has MY ATTENTION!MY husband grew up in ROME.........he has often mentioned the old homes with pillars MARBLE that where THERE!
    Looking forward to NEXT WEEK VERY MUCH!!!!!

    1. Elizabeth, so am I! This book is a must have the details are incredible-Truly! pgt

  2. quietly spectacular ... granny was a trompe l'oeil fanatic. interesting and informative post!

    1. Absolutely, he worked with Lee Radziwill on her homes in England, probably his most famously photographed rooms. pgt

  3. Painted rapture. Too utterly beautiful. Thanks for this post and for the info on the book, Gaye.



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