Thursday, March 13, 2003

White House to Have Freedom Yard Sale

The White House: This weekend.

The Hannibal French Bronze Clock:

The Hannibal clock displayed on the mantle was the work of Deniere and Matelin, noted French bronze casters who made many of the bronze-dore objects purchased in 1817 by Monroe, including this bronze-dore fruit basket.

Bellange Arm Chair:

When the White House was rebuilt after the 1814 Fire, James Monroe bought furniture designed by the French cabinetmaker Pierre-Antoine Bellange. The furniture was decorated with carved sprigs of olive, although Monroe asked for eagles. The upholstery was listed as double-warp satin in delicate crimson and two shades of gold, with an American eagle woven into the center of a wreath of laurel. Of the pieces he purchased, only nine remain in the White House today, including this armchair, six other chairs, one sofa, and one pier table.

1- Official White House China
The Monroe service, made by P.L. Dagoty, Paris, France, c. 1817.

2- A serving platter from the flamboyant Hayes china, made in France by Haviland & Co., 1880.

3- Classical figures adorn a rococo-revival punch bowl from the Franklin Pierce service, 1853. Mrs. Benjamin Harrison found the bowl in the White House attic and had it mended and put on display as an historical piece of White House china.

Entrance and Cross Halls Art and Furnishings:
The Entrance Hall is seen by visitors as they leave the White House. It is set off from the Cross Hall by a colonnade and is decorated in the same style. Its furnishings include a French pier table purchased by Monroe in 1817 and a pair of French settees with carved mahogany swans' heads.

State Dining Room:
When not set for a state dinner, as seen above, the mahogany dining table, surrounded by Queen Anne-style chairs, displays part of Monroe's gilt service purchased from France in 1817. The ornamental bronze-doré pieces are used today as table decorations. The plateau centerpiece, with seven mirrored sections, measures 14 feet 6 inches in length when fully extended. Standing bacchantes holding wreaths for tiny bowls or candles border the plateau. Three fruit baskets, supported by female figures, may be used to hold flowers. The two rococo-revival candelabra date from the Hayes administration.

Vermeil Room Art and Furnishings: (self explanatory)
The vermeil collection contains pieces from different services and includes the work of English Regency silversmith Paul Storr (1771-1844), French Empire silversmith Jean-Baptiste-Claude Odiot (1763-1850), and Philip Rundell of London, who crafted the vermeil wine cooler at the right. The cooler has as its handles classical figures reaching for grapes

Art for the President's House — An Historical Perspective:
In 1963 the family of John F. Kennedy contributed a painting by French Impressionist Claude Monet as a tribute to President Kennedy's great love of the outdoors.

East Room Art and Furnishings:
Today the East Room retains the late 18th-century classical style to which it was restored by architects McKim, Mead & White during the Theodore Roosevelt renovation of 1902. An oak floor of Fontainebleau parquetry was installed at the time

Red Room:
Furnished in the Empire style of 1810-30, the Red Room contains several pieces of furniture from the New York workshop of the French-born cabinetmaker Charles-Honoré Lannuier.

The furniture displays many motifs similar to those of the French pieces now in the Blue Room. Egyptian motifs were extensively used in French Empire furnishings following Napoleon's 1798-99 campaign in Egypt, and many of these same designs were adopted by cabinetmakers working in New York, Boston, and Philadelphia.

All the fabrics now in the Red Room were woven in the United States from French Empire designs. The walls are covered by a red twill satin fabric with a gold scroll design in the borders. The furniture, like the American Empire sofa, is upholstered in a silk of the same shade of red. An early 19th-century design inspired the draperies. The carpet--of beige, red and gold--is a reproduction of an early 19th-century French Savonnerie carpet in the White House collection; it was made for the room in 1997. The 36-light French Empire chandelier was fashioned from carved and gilded wood in 1805.

Blue Room:
When President Monroe redecorated the "large oval room" after the fire, he used the French Empire style, which is the present decor. Monroe ordered a suite of French mahogany furniture through the American firm Russell and La Farge, with offices in Le Havre, France. However, the firm shipped gilded furniture instead, asserting that "mahogany is not generally admitted into the furniture of a Saloon, even at private gentlemen's houses". Eight pieces of the original suite can be seen, including a bergerè, an armchair with enclosed sides. A gilded bronze clock also remains.

The marble-top center table, that has been in the White House since it was purchased by President Monroe in 1817, stands beneath the French chandelier.

The blue satin draperies were derived from an early 19th century French source. The walls were hung with a light gold paper adapted from an early 19th century American paper with borders adapted from two early 19th century French papers.

And finally, inside the State Dining Room:
Carved into the mantel below George P. A. Healy's portrait of President Lincoln is an inscription from a letter written by John Adams on his second night in the White House:

"I pray Heaven to Bestow the Best of Blessings on THIS HOUSE and on All that shall hereafter Inhabit it. May none but honest and Wise Men ever rule under this roof."

Ha ha!

(From the Farmer, in comments)