Country house

In 1874, Louisa bought a villa in Le Vésinet, just outside Paris, for some 40,000 Dutch guilders. Around 1870, the area had been developed into a luxury villa park with huge detached houses, winding lanes and water features.

The brick house was designed by architect Francois-Eugene Bardon. It was brand new when Louisa bought it and featured all the latest mod cons, such as water closets and bathrooms. The Willets stayed there from June until late autumn, often taking their servants with them.

It must have been a wonderful home for the couple: the spacious villa, fresh country air and Paris only half-an-hour away by train. Abraham and his Parisian art cronies paid countless visits to each other's homes, while Louisa enjoyed the garden, her pets and Parisian fashion. Here, they continued to amass their collection and this house too was full of art. The couple probably had their own artistic aspirations – the inventory includes two painting chests.

In 1884, the villa burned to the ground after a curtain caught fire. Abraham’s entire collection of weapons and an unknown number of paintings by old masters went up in flames. Luckily, no-one was hurt although the fire did kill three of the couple's dogs. Understandably, the Willets never returned to Le Vésinet.