Drawing, First Studies for the Villa Stein-de Monzie, Garches, France, 1926
Graphite on white paperboard, mounted on canvas. Museum purchase from James B. Ford and Peter Cooper Hewitt Estate Funds. 1936-60-1.
What is this?
Various working sketches scattered over page. Floor plans at center and lower left; one elevation at center, left; two exterior aerial perspectives above, two exterior aerial perspectives below, plus additional notations.
Why is this important?
These working sketches played an essential role in the collaborative design process between architect Le Corbusier and his clients, modern art collectors Michael and Sarah Stein and their friend Gabrielle de Monzie, and, significantly, led historians to question previously held assumptions about the building. The drawing reflects many changes in the design’s development; the architect shifted from a symmetrical to asymmetrical plan with an extra bedroom for de Monzie’s daughter, and placed the living quarters in de Monzie’s section of the house with garage and kitchen near the Steins’ area. These changes suggest de Monzie, whose name appears on the project contract and invoices, may have had more design control than the Steins, despite their strong interest in avant-garde architecture. The rational, geometric house was completed in 1927, and for decades scholars compared its rhythmic structural bays and volume to Italian Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio’s villas. However, when historians rediscovered this drawing in the mid-1980s, some determined instead that the house’s form derived from programmatic requirements—the need for a multifamily home—and Le Corbusier’s thinking about other commissions. Understanding the architect’s process and his relationship with clients is difficult, and as shown by the scholarship around this drawing, it is also ongoing task.