The Mount’s Wharton collection growsEdith Wharton’s possessions are starting to come home.
Now that The Mount has completed the initial phase of major restoration work, Erica Donnis, curator of collections at the author’s historic Lenox estate, is increasing efforts to find the original furnishings and period pieces appropriate for the house, and to acquire Wharton’s personal effects. And, benefactors are responding, recognizing that the restored estate is now in a position to receive and display important artifacts.
Donations to The Mount this season include:
· Wharton Punch Bowl and Trunk --William Royall Tyler, son of Wharton’s close friend Elisina Tyler, donated a silver punch bowl and a large steamer trunk, important objects once owned by Wharton. The punch bowl features embossed scroll and grape motifs and two lion’s head handles. It dates from the late 19th century and may have been a wedding gift to Wharton in 1885. The leather and brass trunk is attributed to Louis Vuitton and was probably used by Wharton for her frequent trips between Lenox and New York and for her travels to Europe. The trunk dates from the late 19th century and is marked with the initials “EW” on each end.
· Edith Wharton fountain pen -- A fountain pen of Wharton’s was purchased at auction with funds donated by Jonas Dovydenas, Bryce Hill, Guy Robinson and Stephanie Copeland. Made by Conklin Pens in Toledo, Ohio in 1925, the lever fountain pen is made of green marbleized plastic with an 18k gold nib stained with blue ink. It is accompanied by a black lacquered case.
· The Scott Marshall Collection -- During his lifetime, The Mount’s late historian Scott Marshall amassed an important collection of materials by and about Wharton. Bequeathed to The Mount upon his death in 2002, the collection includes more than 25 first editions of Wharton’s works, a large number of early periodicals containing Wharton short stories and essays, and more than 80 titles about the author. The addition of Marshall’s collection more than doubles The Mount’s literary archives. Among the most significant items are two books from Edith Wharton’s personal library that contain her bookplates; a copy of the July 1891 issue of Scribner’s Magazine, which contains her first published work of fiction, Mrs. Manstey’s View; and a first edition of Wharton’s Old New York, a set of novellas with their original dustjackets and slipcase.
· Marble Bust and Louis XVI Bed -- A small nineteenth-century marble bust of a young woman in Renaissance garb was donated Paul F. Miller. It is a close match to a bust originally in The Mount’s library. Ann Fitzpatrick Brown donated a Louis XVI double bed originally from Blantyre, another Lenox country house built at the same time as The Mount. The c. 1890-1910 bed, which is on display in Wharton’s restored bedroom suite, is consistent with Wharton’s design sensibilities. It is French in style, relatively simple in design, painted white, and has caning on the headboard and footboard.
These items significantly increase the size of The Mount’s collection, which also includes a watercolor portrait of Wharton as a child, oil portraits of Wharton’s father and brothers, a collection of watercolors once owned by Wharton, and antique linens with Wharton’s monogram.
Most of the furnishings original to The Mount were sold at auction in 1935. Wharton died in 1937, bequeathing items from her estate to friends and family members in the U.S. and Europe.
The Mount is a National Historic Landmark notable for its stature in American architecture and design as well as for its owner and designer, author Edith Wharton, the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. The estate includes a 42-room mansion, a Georgian Revival stable, three acres of formal gardens and additional acres of scenic woodlands. It is open daily through November 2, featuring main rooms decorated by leading interior designers and Edith Wharton’s newly restored bedroom suite.
It will re-open for the 2004 season on May 1, 2004. For more information, visit www.EdithWharton.org.