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.


  1. Nirvana....Green, Yellow and Mario! I wonder what the menu is ?

  2. Glorious Jennifer. I really love the green against the Chinoiserie paper!
    The Arts by Karena

  3. crazy about this wallpaper + great photos of it xxpeggybraswelldesign.com

  4. And the Chinese Chippendale side chair---unequaled. xoxo Mary

  5. Anonymous9:03 AM

    I too was always passionate about Winterthur, and the wallpaper of this room…and this was my story at HG. Simon and I spent a couple of days there in the dark (he can shoot in a pitch black room) , and this was one of the best shots. In high resolution, printed on good paper, this is a very beautiful image. Ive always wondered if anyone noticed -- you've made my day! Thank you Jennifer.

    1. I certainly noticed! It's one of my favorite images ever.

  6. Anonymous8:37 AM

    A room I have visited twice and found breathtakingly gorgeous.