Marie Cuttoli: Patron of Modern Textiles
Copyright 2006 by the author.
Marie Cuttoli was an important patron of modernist textiles in the 1920s and 1930s. She is credited with introducing many artists, primarily painters, to the art of tapestry, inspiring some of them, Jean Lurçat, Fernand Léger, and Le Corbusier among the most famous, to completely reenvision their artistic work and to move from the production of small-scale easel paintings to large scale, mural-like graphic compositions within an architectural context.
Unfortunately, Marie Cuttoli’s name is rarely recognized today, just as the art of midcentury pictorial tapestry has been relegated to footnotes in most studies of twentieth century art and design. Elizabeth Ann Coleman, Susan Day, and others have discussed Cuttoli and her design house Maison Myrbor. This paper seeks to fill in some of the blank areas, to theorize about the historic role of pictorial tapestry in the twentieth century, and to re-introduce Marie Cuttoli to the annals of history.
Marie Bordes (1879-1973) was born in France in 1879. She lived to be 94 years old, passing away the same year that her close friend Pablo Picasso died. She lived through an incredible period of time, and accomplished much during her life.
In 1912, at the age of 33, Marie Bordes married Paul Cuttoli (1864-1949), a wealthy, Algerian-born French politician who was elected Senator of the Algerian city of Constantine (1920) and then Mayor (1929) of the Algerian port-city of Philippeville, now called Skikda, which was then a French barracks. In 1913, the couple built a huge mansion in Philippeville; known as Villa Myriam, in honor of the Arabic name Marie was referred to there. The Cuttoli’s traveled frequently, and during their visits to Paris and the south of France, they befriended many contemporary artists, and assembled an extraordinary collection of avant-garde art, including works by Pablo Picasso, Léger, Raoul Dufy, and George Braque.