While we were away in Virginia, we took a short trip up to Delaware to visit Winterthur, the home of Henry Dupont. I had heard about it before but never been there. INCREDIBLE!!! Henry Dupont devoted his life to collecting American decorative arts. Always envisioning his house as a museum of decorative arts for the public, he fully furnished 195 rooms with hundreds of thousands of American antiques, before their value was fully realized by the public as a whole. For instance, he saved a southern plantation home that was slated for demolition. Not only did he restore all the woodwork to use on walls, doorways, and mantels, he used the facade to line a wall of what was once his badminten court, creating an indoor street of sorts. Then he installed the spiral staircase in his main foyer as a surprise for his family while they were on vacation. Can you even imagine being inspired by a new spiral staircase? (We were surprised by our lack of air conditioning upon returning home from a trip, but not a spiral staircase!)
Overall I was struck by the fearlessness of the 18th century artists in terms of color and scale. While the they were heavily influenced by both French and English styles, there is a joyousness and levity in their designs that was distinctly American... much like exuberance of the quilts one sees today.
And I didn't even mention the gardens, which Dupont valued as highly as the antiques. Dupont was a pioneer in natural landscaping that is popular today. There are hundreds of acres of gardens, including everything from bucolic meadows...
... to formal gardens. Here are my mom and I, with the house in the background, taken by her friend Marilyn.
A beautiful day!