ⓘ São Schlumberger


ⓘ São Schlumberger

Maria "São" Schlumberger, was a Portuguese-born American fashion and art patron and collector, and the second wife of Pierre Schlumberger.


1. Early life

She was born Maria da Concerção Diniz on 15 October 1929 in Porto, Portugal. He father was a landowner, who grew cork and olives, and her mother was a German heiress from Hamburg - they met at the University of Coimbra. Her parents were never legally married, and she was largely raised by her Portuguese grandmother. Her maternal grandmother was Erna Schroeder. From the age of ten, she attended a Lisbon boarding school run by nuns, and in 1951, earned a degree in philosophy and history from the University of Lisbon.


2. Personal life

She studied psychology for three months at New Yorks Columbia University, and then worked as a counsellor juvenile delinquents in Lisbon, before switching to studying art at the Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga, where she met Pedro Bessone Basto, a "boulevardier" from a wealthy family. They married in New York, and divorced in under a year.

In 1961, the Lisbon-based Gulbenkian Foundation awarded her a fellowship to research childrens programs in New York museums, and once there was helped by Kay Lepercq, whose husband Paul Lepercq was an investment banker, and his clients included the Schlumberger family. After two months, Pierre Schlumberger 1914-1986 proposed and they married in 1961. His first wife, Claire Schwob dHericourt, with whom he had five children, died from a stroke in 1959. Pierre and São had two children, Paul-Albert, in 1962, and Victoire, in 1968. They lived in Houston, Texas, until he was ousted as CEO in "a family coup" in 1965, and moved to New York City and then Paris.


3. Patron and collector

In Paris, they lived in an 18th-century hotel particulier in the Rue Ferou, next door to Man Ray, restored by French architect Pierre Barbe, with interior design by Valerian Rybar in "a provocative mix of classic and modern styles". She regularly organised parties, ranging from formal black-tie balls to a "hot-pants party".

Schlumberger particularly liked the work of Mark Rothko, Robert Rauschenberg and Roy Lichtenstein. Her portrait was painted by Salvador Dali, but in 1987, she said, "I dont really like it". Dali also designed for her an elaborate pearl-and-emerald necklace which she often wore. Andy Warhol painted her portrait too.

She was a patron to the fashion designer John Galliano, and lent him her empty 17th-century Paris hotel particulier which she had left for a new Right Bank apartment, for his autumn 1994 show, designed with the help of Andre Leon Talley, Amanda Harlech, and Steven Robinson.