Thursday, March 04, 2010

A White House Auction?

The Garfields had made plans to do some renovations to the White House, but they weren't there long enough to make the adjustments they'd planned. Instead, Chester Arthur did a major redecoration of the White House during his tenure, including auctioning off furnishings!

Chester Arthur, did not occupy the White House until the house was redecorated to suit his tastes. The rooms were cleared of all damaged and unfashionable furniture. Twenty-four wagonloads of furniture and thirty barrels of old china were sent to auction. Arthur commissioned Associated Artists, of which Louis Comfort Tiffany was a partner, to makeover the house. No furniture was commissioned but stained glass, lighting fixtures, mantels, over mantel mirrors and decorative painting using gold and silver leaf in the style of the Aesthetic Movement were designed for the rooms.

This represents a very different attitude on White House furnishing that we are used today, as in 1961 Congress made it illegal to get rid of White House artifacts (this is part of Mrs. Kennedy's renovation efforts).

The White House Historical Association has a nice timeline of the White House decorative arts if you are interested in more on this topic.

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