Sunday, May 31, 2009

Enchanting Red Room

Two hundred years ago, Dolley Madison had the chamber painted yellow for the rollicking gossipy Wednesday night parties she threw next to the president's formal room.  Her famous Gilbert Stuart portrait hangs on the bright twill satin draped walls.  On the first floor of the Executive Mansion closest to the State Dining Room on the West side next to Michelle Obama's favorite Room is the vivid reception room now known as the Red Room. 

Jackie Kennedy gave it panache when she refurbished the room back into the French empire style of the Madison age sans the yellow. It was the last of the rooms touched up during the Clinton presidency in 2000. Laura Bush made use of the room for an intimate Valentine's Dinner with special friends.  First ladies have found a way to make the room regal and a place for entertainment with the style of furnishings and floral arrangements chosen for the room. (President Barack Obama teases his wife in the Red Room.  Photo courtesy Pete Souza WH)

The 1962 Kennedy Restoration

Nancy Reagan in the Red Room
Napoleonic influence in French design spurred the Madison purchases in the room, especially the empire sofa with the gold medallion accented upholstery.  The chandelier has 36 lights in the carved and gilded confection handcrafted in 1805.  In 1997 Hillary Clinton had the rug done as a reproduction of a Savonnerie carpet in the style of the early 19th century. 

The entire effect is pretty inspiring with Angelica Van Buren's portrait as the official hostess and daughter-in-law of the president gains a place of honor in the Red Room showing the bust of the president in her portrait with the actual bust still residing in the Red Room too.  Angelica's portrait over the mantle and Dolley above across from the famous oval painting of Niagara Falls in a gilt frame.

The colors of the room inspired the 2004 Bush White House Christmas card.  The mantle in the room was original to the State Dining Room and now resides in the Red Room.  A superlative American textile manufacturer, Scalamandre Silks provided the silks for the walls and seating pieces and matching straight Napoleonic drapes. The stunning room has uses for quiet reflection or a gateway to larger receptions.

President Obama reads notes before press conference on the silk covered Monroe sofa.
Beautifully illustrating the state floor plan with the open door showing Red Room opens to the State Dining room. Photos courtesy WH, P. Souza
The White House Red Room won the EWR favorite Room poll.


meredithp said...
Tuesday, 02 June, 2009  

Such a beautiful room. It will be interesting if we hear anything about Mrs. Reagan's lunch with Mrs. O tomorrow. Ilove the fact that the WH puts so many pix on Flikr.

Nana R said...
Tuesday, 02 June, 2009  

That will be a lunch for the Ages. My hope is they discuss Blair House too. Mrs. Reagan will probably stay there while in town.

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