Following her well-received lecture on JP Morgan’s London house in November 2018, Linda Roth, Curator of European Decorative Arts at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art has invited us to Hartford to go and discover firsthand the objets d’art she shared with us. Following a tour of the Atheneum led by Ms. Roth, we will visit the Austin House nearby with Brandy Culp, Curator of American Decorative Arts at the Wadsworth Atheneum. Our Hartford excursion will conclude with a tour of the Hill-Stead Museum in Farmington.
We will start the day by meeting either at 8:45am at the corner of Lime Street and Beacon Street in Boston or at the Route 128 train station in Westwood at 9:10am. At each location, we will be met by a private bus for the day’s adventure. More information about the different sites we will visit is below.
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WADSWORTH ATHENEUM MUSEUM OF ART
We will arrive at the Wadsworth Atheneum around 11am, where Linda Roth, Senior Curator and
Charles C. and Eleanor Lamont Cunningham Curator of European Decorative Arts will lead us on a tour of the exceptional objects given to the museum by J.P. Morgan.
The European Decorative Arts collection comprises approximately 7,000 objects, more than 1,300 of which are from the legendary collection of J. Pierpont Morgan. These include ancient glass and bronzes, Italian maiolica, Venetian and façon de venise glass, nautilus cups, ostrich egg ewers, mounted ivories, silver-gilt vessels, Meissen porcelain, and Vincennes and Sèvres porcelain.
After the tour, we will have some individual time (approximately half an hour) to explore the rest of the museum before gathering at the museum restaurant at 12:30. Both Linda Roth and Brandy Culp will be joining us there for lunch.
At 1:30pm, we will board the bus with Brandy Culp, Richard Koopman Curator of American Decorative Arts, for our visit of the Austin House.
A National Historic Landmark, the Austin House was the home of the legendary and innovative A. Everett “Chick” Austin, Jr., the Wadsworth Atheneum’s director from 1927 to 1944. Located two miles from the museum, in Hartford’s West End, the house was modeled on a grand 16th-century villa near Venice, which Chick and his wife Helen Goodwin Austin had seen on their wedding trip in 1929. The home is 86 feet wide but a mere 18 feet deep. Inside, the first floor is decorated in the 18th-century Rococo style, with silk-covered walls, gilded and painted furniture, and a spectacular Bavarian alcove. A few steps lead from the entry hall down to the living room in one direction, and the dining room in the other. Upstairs, Helen Austin’s dressing room proclaims a radically modern aesthetic. Featuring a black linoleum floor, walls of different colors, chromium light fixtures, and tubular steel furniture, it is one of the first International Style interiors in America. In the 1930s the Austin House was a gathering place for leaders of the international art world, where Austin and Helen entertained guests including Salvador Dalí, Alexander Calder, Gertrude Stein, George Balanchine, Le Corbusier, Cecil Beaton, Martha Graham, Agnes de Mille, Aaron Copland, and Virgil Thomson.
We will finish our day with a visit of Hill-Stead.
The Hill-Stead Museum is a Colonial Revival house and art museum set on a large estate in Farmington, Connecticut. In addition to its architecture, and stately grounds, it is best known for its French Impressionist masterpieces. The property was designated a National Historic Landmark as a nationally significant example of Colonial Revival architecture. The home was built in 1901 to designs that were the result of a unique collaboration between Theodate Pope Riddle, one of the United States’ first female architects, and the renowned firm of McKim, Mead & White. The house was commissioned by Riddle’s father, Alfred Atmore Pope, and the art collection it houses was collected by both Pope and Riddle.
Hill-Stead is considered “perhaps the finest Colonial Revival house and museum in the United States” (National Historic Landmark Report) and houses some of the most important Impressionist paintings in the world, including works by Mary Cassatt, Edgar Degas, Edouard Manet, Claude Monet, and James McNeill Whistler.
At the conclusion of the visit, we will return to Route 128 Station, Westwood and Boston.