Rebecca Tilles Explores The Creation of the French Drawing Room
Image © Courtesy Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens. Photograph by Erik Kvalsvik
Please note: This virtual program is free and open to ICAA Members and the public.
Marjorie Merriweather Post (1887-1973) was one of the most influential collectors, philanthropists, and businesswomen of the twentieth century. Born in Springfield, Illinois to a middle-class family, she inherited the helm of the Postum Cereal Company from her father at the age of 27, eventually becoming the director of General Foods,, making her one of the wealthiest women in America. Post’s collecting began as a young woman during the Gilded Age, expanding during the glamorous 1920s in New York and Palm Beach, and encompassing the role of diplomat as the wife of the Ambassador to Soviet Russia and Belgium in the late 1930s, finally culminating as one of the most influential philanthropists and society hostesses in Washington, D.C. between the 1940s-60s. She designed and decorated a multitude of impressive residences, notably a sprawling 54-room triplex apartment on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan (1925), the Mar-A-Lago estate in Palm Beach (1927), Adirondack Great Camp Topridge, New York (1923), and, finally, Hillwood, Washington, DC (1955), which she bequeathed to the public following her death.
For many of these residences, she relied on and collaborated with a select number of designers, architects and dealers, including Sir Joseph Duveen, French & Company, and McMillan Inc., among others. Through these relationships, and as a result of her frequent travels overseas, she developed an interest in French 18th-century art and interiors, including paneling, furniture, porcelain, paintings, clocks, sculpture, and precious jewels and objects of virtue, many of which came with a royal provenance. This lecture will explore Post’s passion for French interiors and her design and replication of the French Drawing Room in many of her residences, culminating at Hillwood.
About the Speaker
From January 2018 to May 2022, Rebecca Tilles was curator of 18th Century Western European art at Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens in Washington, DC. At Hillwood, she curated the exhibitions Perfume & Seduction (2019), Kristine Mays: Rich Soil (2021), and The Luxury of Clay: Porcelain Past and Present (2022). She is currently based in London and Paris and is working on a new publication on collectors George and Florence Blumenthal and is a contributor to the upcoming publications The Museum and the Art Market for Bloomsbury’s “Contextualizing Art Market” series (2023) and The Wonder of Wood: Decorative Inlay and Marquetry in Europe and America, 1600-1900 in conjunction with Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library (2024).
Rebecca completed her PhD in Art History from the University of Sussex (2019) where her dissertation was entitled George and Florence Blumenthal: A Collecting Partnership in the Gilded Age, 1858-1941.” Prior to beginning her PhD, Rebecca worked as a curatorial research fellow in decorative arts and sculpture in the Art of Europe Department at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston from 2007-2014. She holds a BA (with honors) in French and French Cultural Studies from Wellesley College (2003), an MA in European Decorative Arts from The Bard Graduate Center in New York (2007), and studied at the Ecole du Louvre, Paris.
Presented as part of the Interior Design Series at the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art. The ICAA is very grateful to Allison Caccoma Inc., Lindley Martens Design, Tammy Connor Interior Design, Tucker & Marks Inc. and Sarah Blank Design Studio for their generous support of this program, along with the Series Supporting Sponsors de la Torre Design and Susan Ferrier.
This lecture is also presented as part of The Françoise and Andrew Skurman Lecture Series on Classical French Architecture.
Lead Annual Public Programs Sponsor: RINCK
Seasonal Public Programs Sponsor: Dell Mitchell Architects
Seasonal Public Programs Sponsor: Hyde Park Mouldings
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