They wished to encourage their fledgling colleague, not befuddle him with the exactitudes of connoisseurship. It had served as the family home to five generations before du Pont converted it into the world's preeminent showplace of furniture and decorative arts made or used in the United States before 1860. encodeURIComponent(document.location.href) + ""; s.parentNode.insertBefore(tagjs, s); The museum houses a decorative arts collection of more than 80,000 items, including furniture, metalwork, textiles, ceramics, glass, wood, leather, ivory, wax, paintings, drawings, paper, sculpture, rugs, and architectural interiors from 1640-1860. This conviction was fortified by remarks made at Winterthur in 1980 on the centennial of H. F. du Pont’s birth. He was one of the first serious collectors of American decorative art objects --furniture, textiles, paintings, and other objects made in the United States between 1640 and 1840. It was not an ignorant excursionist who had pitted against the museum a truly spectacular t wo-hundred-acre garden. Wikipedia. Ninety-nine cottages housed 250 members of Winterthur’s population, which was variously employed maintaining one of America’s finest informal gardens, tending one of America’s finest herds of Hoistein cattle, or waxing and dusting America’s richest collection of antique American furniture, all of which H. F. du Pont had arranged in “period” rooms, a museum display technique which he chiefly regarded as a mode of home decoration. A verification email has been sent to you. Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? The pandemic continues to affect athletics. They are instructed to remind visitors that while Winterthur’s period rooms depict superbly the history of decorative arts in America, they decidedly do not portray the “early life” of Americans, not even “at its best.”. During these years before World War I, du Pont traveled extensively to study the great gardens of Europe. | Financial Update | Register Here. With some fifty thousand objects,from sconces to spatterware, displayed in two hundred period installations, all of them adorned with panels, moldings, and cornices salvaged by du Pont from old buildings, Winterthur seemed preeminently a “museum”—“the bastion of decorative arts connoisseurship in America,” as Museum News triumphantly expressed it in 1977. In a family not noted for humility, Winterthur was regarded as markedly pretentious. For a middle-aged man who had received precious little praise in his lifetime, Walpolean flattery was heady stuff. The poor student had matured into an expert on cattle breeding, horticulture, and Americana. On the other hand, it was hardly necessary to provide only four lengthy tours a day, thereby arbitrarily reducing the museum’s visiting capacity to a minuscule six thousand people per year. There was one easy way to find out, and du Pont took it. When a Harvard alumni publication asked him to list his occupation, he claimed to be a “financier and farmer,” although he was only a farmer of the most gentlemanly sort and a financier not at all. By now he cared far less about antiques than about the “sunlit meadows, shaded wood paths, and peace and deep calm” of his haven. He was the only son of Henry Algernon du Pont and Mary Pauline Foster to live to maturity; by the time he was born, his parents had already buried five children.[2]. Under the museum’s genial director, James Smith, the once forbidding formality also is rapidly becoming a thing of the past. He had taken classes at the Arnold Arboretum, however, that launched him on a serious study of horticulture. Because he always acted as his own agent, not buying anything until he'd seen it for himself, he developed a connoisseurship and authority that others respected. By then it was abundantly clear to the colonel that his only son had no future in the world beyond Winterthur. [citation needed], Though he called flowers his "passion," in 1923 he developed an interest for antique furniture after visiting a Vermont farmhouse. Congratulations on this excellent venture… what a great idea! Since du Pont’s death in 1969 much has changed at Winterthur. Father of Pauline Louise du Pont and Ruth Ellen Lord 1884. Regarded as one of America’s most beautiful historic homes and mansions, on par with Biltmore Estate, Monticello, and Hearst Castle, visitors marvel at du Pont’s elegantly-furnished 175-room former home. Wikipedia. He also began saving the interiors of old houses that were about to be razed, eventually incorporating them into Winterthur as authentic settings for his antiques. The research library has nearly half a million books, manuscripts, and photographs, and the 966- acre property features a 60-acre naturalistic garden.

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