- Malcolm Gee
- , revised by Pamela Elizabeth Grimaud
(b Paris, Feb 19, 1853; d Paris, July 17, 1929).
French couturier, patron, collector and bibliophile (see fig.). He joined his family’s clothing business in 1875 and played a central role in its development into one of the premier haute couture houses in Paris. Refined, exacting and possessed of an unerring appreciation for beauty, Doucet was an avid patron of the arts whose taste was reflected in the fashions designed under his name. He may initially have bought art for public relations purposes; however, it became the central interest in his life, partly, it seems, because the superior exercise of taste allowed him to compensate for social disappointments. Following a vogue that was already quite widespread by 1880, he built up an outstanding collection of 18th-century French art and design, which he housed in a magnificent 18th-century style hôtel in the Rue Spontini: it included Jean-Honoré Fragonard’s Le Feu aux poudres (Paris, Louvre), Jean-Siméon Chardin’s House of Cards...