Style Court

Textiles, Art History, Gardens, and a Little Mental Traveling with Courtney Barnes 2006-2016

1.13.2009

Personal Art in the White House

I used to have my grandmother's dogeared copy of Upstairs at the White House, but unfortunately at the moment I can't find it. In the book J.B. West, a former Chief Usher, gives an authorized behind-the-scenes account of Mrs. Kennedy's restoration efforts. What I enjoyed reading about most was the art she unearthed and where she chose to hang it.

Pictured above and below, as you probably know, are detailed views of Jackie's White House bedroom, in the very early 60s, as seen in Parish-Hadley: Sixty Years of American Design. According to the book's captions, the drawings and objects in this grouping are from her personal collection. But I hope to offer you more specifics at some point. (Perhaps Aesthete will weigh-in on this?)

What I do notice is the use of soft blue or blue-grey mats. Even in my most current readings, this color is suggested as a good choice for pale works on paper and some black-and-white sketches. There are tastemakers who are opposed to colored mats, preferring instead neutrals. Some however make an exception for this blue shade.

A pastel of Caroline appears to be leaning against the wall, not hanging.

BTW: Here's the link to domino's in-depth coverage on the selection of Michael Smith to be the Obamas' White House decorator. To read Terri Sapienza's coverage, click click here.

Above, an obscure look at the books and magazines on Jackie's bedroom bench. Below, a scheme board for the room presented by the Kennedy's decorator, Sister Parish. On the left note the silk-screened fabric from Dek Tillett. All images are from Parish-Hadley: Sixty Years of American Design.


Related past post.

Click here, and additionally please try this link, scrolling down, for more past posts related to Smith.

17 comments:

Cote de Texas said...

i still think her bedrooms were the prettiest, along with the Blue room! so beautiful!

Mike said...

Courtney, I don't think that you are aware that it is no longer Christmas; you keep giving and giving!!!!

You started the year with a series of very inspiring posts, but then you went on to provide a link that brought us to Miles Redd's personal residence, and then another to Mary McDonald's guesthouse!

Filled with delicious design confection, you've now added that one of my design heros, Michael Smith, a fellow anglophile, will be the official Obamma White House Designer!

Courtney, you must stop, I am sure I'm not alone in saying this, but I think we're near ready to burst.

Thank you so much for your spectacular start to 2009, and for the great news that Smith will be working his magic and displaying his talents in America's house!

Style Court said...

Joni -- me too! And the domino poll seems to indicate others feel that way too.

Style Court said...

Well Mike, as always you are too generous. I think The Peak of Chic was first to announce this -- the Obama Smith connection. I just added a link to domino's latest section on it. Deborah Needleman has some wonderful inside views to share.

columnist said...

Mrs Kennedy's choice would be totally acceptable today, nearly 50 years on. Such peaceful and tranquil colours, (which she no doubt needed in her sanctuary).

Things That Inspire said...

This picture drew me right in - what a beautiful arrangement. I posted this on Notting Hill's blog, but are there any published pictures of the current Bush private rooms? I remember seeing the Clintons rooms in Traditional Home (I recently came across them when trying to pare down my huge magazine collection), but I do not recall seeing the redecoration for the Bushes.

Style Court said...

Sarah,
Domino has some of Mrs Bush's changes posted--public areas I think. The History Channel did a big special but I missed that, and I think Architectural Digest might have posted some Bush images.

vicki archer said...

I agree with Joni, This bedroom is divine - very peaceful and relaxing. Can't wait to see the 'new' White House makeover. xv

Ivy Lane said...

Jackie had such impeccable style. Love that room! Can't wait to see what Michael Smith does. It is going to be interesting I am sure.

Style Court said...

Ivy -- I LOVE Smith's work and can't wait to see what he does. He seems to have a great sense of humor too, so he should be fun to work with.

An Aesthete's Lament said...

What I like about Jackie's taste, re the pictures shown here, is that the art is watercolours and sketches, not oil paintings. So they contribute a vivacity to the room—the artist's hand seen in motion, the spontaneity of gesture, the lightness of a sketch versus something more conventionally serious. She was not a great collector by any stretch of the imagination. She had a magpie taste, though, and gravitated to small objects and works of art (in this case 18th-century sketches) that had personality and animation and charm. Charm is the best work I can think of for her taste, a sort of bluestocking charm, not intellectual but intelligent. Note too the way the pictures are hung in the bedroom, proper and sort of constipated, with good taste but not much adventure or balance. The little picture above the chair crammed in the corner; the grid of works above the fireplace; the portrait of Caroline propped on the cabinet but obscured by the silver pitcher. The room is pretty but dishevelled (that's a compliment by the way). It is a young woman's room, with all the freshness and lack of depth that observation implies (again, that is a compliment). It exhibits a taste that is still finding its way.

Style Court said...

Thank you Aesthete for this illuminating perspective. You've captured -- brilliantly -- what I think many of us sense when we look at the images.

Emily Amy Gallery said...

I am very excited to see Smith's work at the White House--I think he is a wonderful choice and hope we are all able to get a peek inside!

Style Court said...

Emily -- I'm sure you personally have a great appreciation for how he works with his clients' stellar art collections!

katiedid said...

I am a bit out of the loop lately, so am excited beyond measure to hear that Maichael Smith will be designing for the Obama family! He is one of my design heroes to be sure. It is so wonderful to have a new presidential family that has chosen so wisely. It gives me renewed hope for our design future! ;)

Style Court said...

Katie -- I know you and I are both Smith groupies that go way back! Everyone is probably sick of hearing that but it's a happy day.

Like I said on Aesthete's site, I think Michael's grasp of history and his penchant for multi-cultural design is perfect for a house that represents the US :)

Janet said...

Oh, so fresh and pretty! I could move in right now. Can't wait to see what the Obamas do...