Looking WSW at dining room door to drawing room – FDR National Historic Site – Springwood Estate – Hyde Park NY – 2013-02-17

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Looking WSW at dining room door to drawing room – FDR National Historic Site – Springwood Estate – Hyde Park NY – 2013-02-17
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Image by Tim Evanson
Looking due west from the southernmost door to the dining room at the Springwood estate of Franklin D. Roosevelt. All furnishings are original, and the house remains unchanged since the day Eleanor Roosevelt vacated it in 1946. This is the entrance to the drawing room (originally the "withdrawing room" where ladies went after dinner).

This is at the Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site in Hyde Park, New York. The claim of Native Americans to the area was ignored by King William III and given to nine New York City businessmen in 1697, and called the "Great Nine Partners Patent". A two-story wood frame house facing east was built on the property sometime between 1790 and 1805. It was 46 feet by 39 feet with a heavy timber frame. Crude bricks were mortared in place between the framing timbers. The house was covered in wide clapboards, with minimal decoration in the Federal style. The windows were two rows, each three panes wide. There were two sashes (one window above, one below), and both could be moved. (In jargon, this a "six-over-six double-hung sash".) These were symmetrically placed in the façade. (The house still features some of these in the central part of the building.) It also had a full basement.

Josiah Wheeler purchase a one-square-mile portion of the property in 1845. Wheeler added a three-story tower to the south end and a two-story servants’ wing to the north. The Wheelers also added a garden to the north and east of the house and planted a hemlock hedge around it. (This hedge survives to this day.) Wheeler also added acreage to the estate, enlarging it to 110 acres. He also added a large stable (1850), laundry house (1850), small ice house (1847-1865), and gardener’s cottage (1845-1865).

Franklin Roosevelt’s father, James Roosevelt, bought Springwood in 1866 for ,000 (at a time when a factory worker’s earnings were 5 a year ). Roosevelt added two elements to the dining room: One was a deep bay (now the breakfast nook) to enlarge the dining space. The other was a two-story, modified hexagonal tower to the north of this nook. On the first floor, this tower was accessed via a door in the breakfast nook, and contained a smoking room. On the second floor, there was a small bedroom accessible from the "Chamber #6" bedroom. When the drawing room was refinished and new furniture added, the old furniture went into the south parlor. A delicately carved mantelpiece was installed there in 1887 to add class. In 1892, the main staircase leading from the lobby to the second floor was installed, and a year later the verandah was extended around the southwest and south parts of the house. James Roosevelt also added another 490 acres of land to the property, and not only farmed the property but used it for forestland. He also added a very large kitchen garden (1880), coach house (1886), duplex house (for staff housing; 1895), and large ice house (1898).

Franklin Delano Roosevelt was born on January 30, 1882. The Roosevelts had no other children, and James Roosevelt died in 1900. (Franklin had an older half-brother, "Rosey", who lived in a mansion just south of Springwood.) Franklin married his first cousin, Eleanor Roosevelt, in 1905. Sara had a "life estate" in the house. This meant that she could live there until she died, although the mansion belonged to Franklin. FDR’s first child came in 1906, and he and Eleanor had five more over the next 10 years. With a rapidly expanding family, and Sara living in the house, major changes were needed. Springwood was electrified in 1908. In 1915, a massive upgrade was made to the structure, designed by Hoppin and Koen of New York City. The clapboards were removed and the exterior of the house finished in stucco. A new tower was constructed around the south parlor to match the north tower, and stone north and south wings added to the building. The south wing had a library on the first floor and three bedrooms on the second. The north wing had a large new kitchen in the rear (complete with "cold room"), and a servants’ hall and small classroom (that later became FDR’s study) for the children in the front. A loggia was added to the front of this wing, and a porch to the north side. On the second floor of the north wing were eight small servants’ bedrooms, two new baths, a trunk room, a tiny valet’s room, and a new servants’ stairs. An entirely new third floor was added over the main building that contained a large playroom, nursery, three bedrooms, two baths, and two tiny "visiting servants" bedrooms. The third floor also featured elliptical and half-round windows capped with swags. The main entrance was also gussied up, with a four-columned portico. Window panes in bo0th new wings were eight-over-eight double-hung sash windows, and a roof balustrade placed atop the entire structure. Over time, Franklin also added a greenhouse (1906), garage (1911), rose garden (1912), and pump house (1916), and added another 900 acres to the property. During his lifetime, Franklin Roosevelt planted more than 200,000 trees (some in tree farms, others in orchards, some as reforestation projects) on the estate.

Until 1941, the two ice houses were filled with ice from the two large artificial ponds on the property. FDR claimed the ice had a special taste that made cocktails better. The night before each election day, Roosevelt’s neighbors came in a torchlight parade to the front of the house to wish him good luck. He spent every election night in the dining room with his advisors. From the study in the north wing, Roosevelt delivered some of his famous "fireside chats".

James Roosevelt, his first wife Rebecca Rowland, and his second wife Sara Delano were art collectors. Franklin, too, was a collector – albeit of naval prints and taxidermied animals. Springwood contains family heirlooms going back more than 200 years; numerous pieces of porcelain, jade, wood, and painting from China; an extensive collection of family portraits (some by famous painters, like Gilbert Stuart); and statuary (bronze and marble).

The only building at the Springwood estate which is not original is the large Stables. The original structure burned to the ground in 1971, and was replaced by a steel-beam reproduction in 1974.

Interestingly, the Greenhouse (which cost a staggering ,700), has three sections. The south and largest section is a hothouse for roses. The middle section is sealed to create moisture for ferns, and the northern section is cooler for plants like carnations. It remains in use today, providing plants for Springwood.

The Gardener’s Cottage and Duplex House are both used as employee residences today.

In 1935, Franklin Roosevelt donated the Springwood mansion and 33.23 acres of land around it to the United States. He also donated 12 acres of land for a library, and designed and constructed on that land a presidential library. Congress accepted the donation by passing the Historic Sites Act of 1935 and legislation accepting the library building in 1939.

About 600 feet to the northwest of the Springwood mansion is Bellefield, the mansion of the Newbold/Morgan family. Originally constructed about 1795, the 16-room house was greatly enlarged between 1840 and 1860. Thomas Newbold, a wealthy local investor and state legislator, purchased the residence about 15 acres of land in 1885. The Newbolds, and their descendants the Morgans, were good friends of the Roosevelts. It is used for employee housing and office space today.

Untitled (1969) – Menez (1926-1995)
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Image by pedrosimoes7
Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, Modern Collection, Lisbon, Portugal

Material: Oil on canvas
Collection: Calouste Gulbenkian Museum – Modern Collection
Inv.: 83P189

BIOGRAPHY

Menez, a contraction of the artist’s full name, Maria Inês Ribeiro da Fonseca, was a Portuguese artist, born in Lisbon. Self-taught, she came to painting as a result of a personal vocation which matured through contact with the visual arts and extensive travel. Her first paintings date from 1952.

In 1954, she met José-Augusto França, then reinvigorating the Galeria de Março with a project to promote modern, and especially abstract, tendencies within the European and Portuguese art.

The first exhibition of Menez’s work – gouaches selected by the poet Sophia de Melo Breyner Andresen – took place at this gallery the same year. The small and medium scale works from this period show the influence of the non-figurative tendency which was for Menez, an accomplished and sensitive colourist, a natural fit.

Her fluid and visible brushwork imbued her paintings with an atmospheric and diaphanous quality which critics praised for its neo-impressionism.

Her skill as a colourist is also evident in her use of an extensive palette of colours organised in tonal gradations or, conversely, exploding in intense contrasts of light and shade over constructed structures arranged in squares.

Garnering instant critical acclaim for her work, Menez took part in the foremost group exhibitions of emerging artists during the 1950s, such as the Exposição de Pintura Moderna Portuguesa [Modern Portuguese Painting Exhibition] of 1955 (Student Association of the Science Faculty, Lisbon), the 1º Salão dos Artistas de Hoje [First Salon of Today’s Artists], in 1956, and Cinquenta Artistas Independents [Fifty Independent Artists], in 1959.

Menez was awarded a Gulbenkian Foundation grant on two occasions, between 1964-65 and in 1969, while living in London, having taken part in three editions of the Foundation’s Visual Arts Exhibitions (1957; 1961, when she received Second Prize for Painting; 1986).

Throughout the 1960s and 70s, her work was regularly included in major international exhibitions of Portuguese art (Tokyo Biennial, 1966; Art Portugais – Du Naturalisme à nos jours, Brussels, Paris, Madrid, 1967; Pintura Portuguesa de Hoy – Abstractos y neofigurativos, Madrid, Salamanca, Barcelona, 1973; Portuguese Art since 1910, London, 1978).

Around 1965, a shift in the artist’s style becomes evident, away from the informalism and airy, dynamic lyrical expressionism that she had been exploring, towards a new understanding and treatment of the coloured form on the picture plane, which was now contained within closed lines, establishing new rhythmic and contrasting relationships with the background, the visual information predominantly inscribed on white or light coloured backgrounds.

Graphic signs and patterns, compressed and amalgamated volumes and occasionally human figures acquire a consistency and weight in the forms, though without sufficient clarity to allow the message to be explicitly or unequivocally interpreted. During the first half of the 1970s, the artist’s work further evolved through a more muted use of colour, notably greyish tones with hints of blue or green.

In the 1980s, Menez’s creative path changed again, following a period of inactivity triggered by the death of her children. From this point, her works show signs of a coded and enigmatic theatricality, suggested by the organisation of the pictorial space as a simulacrum from which other half-open spaces multiply, unfolding from each other, scenarios inhabited by objects and figures, some of whom, with their pallid colour and anachronistic dress, evoke the far-off times of ancient or Renaissance art. Doors, facades, entrances, colonnades and other transitional areas (balconies, baroque gardens) are the settings for wandering figures and characters – taken from real life or from dreams, from past and present – always suggesting an uncompleted act suspended between two periods of times, in which the artist sometimes portrays herself as a distant and passive observer.

During this period Menez also painted a number of ‘still life’ paintings, showing her skills as a colourist: vases with flower arrangements or scenes from her domestic interior, the studio, with screens, corridors, pots of paint and brushes and more jars of flowers, or a self-portrait in the kitchen, with patterned tiles and painting implements.

This series preceded and foreshadowed the development of her drawing in a baroque direction in which she tackled religious themes (a Saint George and the Dragon; a Hell, a Paradise, 1990) or explored eighteenth-century narrative and setting, evident in her investigation of the baroque tile and also reflected in her painting, drawing and tapestry through, for example, the reduction of her palette to the traditional blues and whites of Portuguese narrative tiles, and the stony pallor of the characters who engaged in her improbable and unreal scenarios.

Menez’s legacy also includes works created for tiles, some of them well known to Lisbon’s inhabitants, such as those she created for the Lisbon Underground (Marquês de Pombal Station, 1995), or for the Psychology Faculty of the University of Lisbon (1990; Honourable Mention in the Jorge Colaço Municipal Prize for Tiles in 1991 – with a figurative pattern composed of alternating sequences of dancing angels). In a similar vein, mention should also be made of the panels she designed for the University of Coimbra (Health Sciences Centre, installed in 2007) and for the University of Minho (Biomedical Research Association, 1989), all of them in collaboration with Galeria Ratton.

In 1990, Menez was awarded the Pessoa Prize for her overall body of work, which was the subject of a major retrospective the same year at CAM. In 2007, her work was once again the subject of a retrospective organised by the Manuel de Brito Art Centre in Algés, a tribute to the longstanding friendship that developed between the painter and the collector and owner of Galeria 111 after they met in the 1960s.

Ana Filipa Candeias

May 2013

SOURCE: gulbenkian.pt/museu/en/artist/menez-2/

RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2012
best kitchen design
Image by Karen Roe
The Westland Magical Garden

Sponsored by Westland Horticulture
Silver Gilt medal winner
Designed by Diarmuid Gavin
Built by Dermot Kerins & Gerry Conneely

The Westland Magical Garden is a retreat for garden lovers, a green plot in the city for planting fruit, vegetables, shrubs, herbaceous perennials and seasonal flowers in containers. The garden is pyramid-shaped and comprises seven terraces of planting at different levels.

Trees (including birch trees) grow upright in multi-level planting boxes linking the terraces together, alongside trailing climbers that have been released from their trellis and bamboo canes.

The ground-level section is a shaded garden with formal, elegant planting including ferns, hostas and clipped Buxus sempervirens in terracotta urns. A staircase and elevator provide transport to the higher terraces, while a stainless tubular slide offers the opportunity of a rapid and adventurous descent.

The design is enhanced by a series of garden buildings, from humble sheds to greenhouses.

Access is by a central lift manned by a bellboy kitted out ‘1920s New York Style’.
Level 1 – 16 x 16m plot with ferns, hostas, astilbes, ivy and clipped common box. Plants include bamboo, Epimedium and Hosta.
Level 2 – Japanese pavilion with dwarf pines, Japanese maples and bamboo. Plants include Buxus and Betula nigra.
Level 3 – Plants include Rhyncospermum jasminoides and Amelanchiers.
Level 4 – Victorian greenhouse, outdoor dining room and outdoor kitchen. Plants include a variety of vegetables.
Level 5 – A shower and bath, complete with solar-powered hot water. Shade provided by a cabbage tree and Chinese windmill palm. It has a tubular slide that brings you back to earth in 20 seconds. Plants include Water Lilies.
Level 6 – ‘Bohemia at its best’ – a place to chill, complete with colourful hammocks. Plants include Betulia albosinensis.
Level 7 – Plants include Wallichiana pines and Alchemilla mollis.

The Chelsea Flower Show has been held in the grounds of the Chelsea Hospital every year since 1913, apart from gaps during the two World Wars.
It used to be Britain’s largest flower show (it has now been overtaken by Hampton Court), but is still the most prestigious. From the beginning it has contained both nursery exhibits and model gardens. Every year there have been exhibits from foreign countries as well as from Britain.
It is the flower show most associated with the Royal family, who attend the opening day every year.

Whatever you love about gardening, there’s something for you at this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show.
‘Fresh’ is a brand new area that includes modern, inventive gardens with new design ideas, along with tradestands offering ingenious new products.

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