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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!

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