Tuesday, July 14, 2015
Winterthur's Chinese Parlor
Of the many images that I have filed away in my head, two images in particular have made the greatest impressions on me: those of the Chinese Parlor at Winterthur. Specifically, detail photos of the Chinese Parlor's magnificent Chinese paper mingling with damask furnishings.
Found for Henry Francis du Pont by Nancy McClelland, the parlor's superb Chinese paper needs no decorative assistance, but when photographed partnered with that yellow damask, camelback sofa, seen above, or those vivacious green damask curtains, below, the paper appears to brim with color and vibrancy. And to the series I can now add a third image, which I recently found in American Elegance: Classic and Contemporary Menus from Celebrated Hosts and Hostesses: a table set for an imagined "Before the Theater" dinner, which was conceived by Mario Buatta. Placed in the Chinese Parlor with a green damask sofa and chair providing seating, the setting seems to blur the line between decoration and reality. It's as if this elegant dinner is but one of the paper's myriad scenes, playing out as Chinese figures merrily go about their business in the background.
By the way, if you're wondering why some photos show yellow damask while others capture green versions, it has to do with the seasons. The room's curtains and slipcovers are changed out seasonally, with some seasons ushering in yellow damask or silk taffeta, while other seasons are heralded by the color green.
Image #1: House & Garden, October 2002, Simon Watson photographer; #2: House & Garden's Complete Guide to Interior Decoration, 1960; #3: American Elegance.