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  • Anniversary Blog — Dumbarton Oaks
    functioning as a method of community outreach in the 1940s and returning to that role more than fifty years later The Ellipse Greatly inspired by her time spent in Europe England and France in particular Mildred Bliss took great care to assure that every aspect of the garden was developed to the standards of European perfection She found a collaborator and friend in Beatrix Farrand the landscape gardener whom the Blisses hired to design the gardens an endeavor that began in 1922 Bliss and Farrand collaborated closely a relationship evidenced by their series of correspondences which the two often signed Your ever loving Garden twin Beatrix Farrand s sketch of the Box Garden at The Oaks ca 1930 1937 GD K 4 01 Dumbarton Oaks Garden Archives Two tiered stone fountain basin in the Box Ellipse ca 1956 GP 15 12 Dumbarton Oaks Garden Archives For the enclosed garden known as the Ellipse Farrand conceived an oval of closely planted box hedges surrounding a simple water feature basin with a single jet of water at play Called the Box Ellipse this garden was meant to offer tranquility and privacy with only one entrance exit point and no vistas beyond the box hedge By the late 1950s however the box had become overgrown and unwieldy It was then decided that this garden should be redesigned under the supervision of Alden Hopkins consulting Landscape Architect at Dumbarton Oaks between 1956 and 1959 The original boxwood hedges were replaced with hornbeam trees forming an aerial hedge that allowed views into the surrounding areas Griswold designed walls moats and water feature in the Ellipse ca 1960 1967 Griswold designed walls moats and water feature in the Ellipse ca 1960 1967 GP 15 28 Dumbarton Oaks Garden Archives Extensive correspondence from the period of renovation between Alden Hopkins Director John Thacher Beatrix Farrand and Mildred Bliss among others reveals the level of detail that accompanied these plans Detailed clearing planting and construction specifications abound as the correspondents discussed changes ranging from plumbing adjustments to construction materials from fountain water level to proposed grass length Mildred Bliss in particular closely oversaw the remodeling of the Ellipse managing details down to the color of the decorative pebbles lining the pathway In 1960 u nder Ralph E Griswold consulting Landscape Architect at Dumbarton Oaks beginning in 1960 the original water feature with a single jet fountain was replaced by one of a more modern design and two curved stone walls with moats were added to the design However Mildred Bliss found this change unsatisfying and in 1967 the walls and moats were removed and the water feature was replaced by the French eighteenth century Provençal fountain that had been removed from the Copse due to the construction of the Philip Johnson designed Pre Columbian Pavilion Ellipse with pleached hornbeam trees and Provençal fountain Ellipse with the new native habitat and the installation of Patrick Dougherty s Easy Rider The design of a pleached hornbeam oval surrounding the Provençal

    Original URL path: http://www.doaks.org/75th-anniversary/blog?Subject=Dumbarton+Oaks+Gardens (2016-02-18)
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  • Beatrix Farrand’s Plant Book for Dumbarton Oaks — Dumbarton Oaks
    Studies Landscape Architecture History Garden and Landscape Studies ISBN 978 0 88402 102 5 Paperback 1980 Buy here This book may be freely downloaded here The Plant Book for Dumbarton Oaks was prepared as a resource for those charged with maintenance of the gardens following their acquisition by Harvard University in 1941 Beatrix Farrand here explains the reasoning behind her plan for each of the gardens and stipulates how each should be cared for in order that its basic character remain intact Her resourceful suggestions for alternative plantings her rigorous strictures concerning pruning and replacement her exposition of the overall concept that underlies each detail and the plant lists that accompany her discussion of each garden make this a volume of interest to every student practitioner and lover of landscape design Document Actions Print this Share Filed under Garden and Landscape Studies Dumbarton Oaks Gardens Dumbarton Oaks Publications Online In print Beatrix Farrand Navigation Publications Online Resources Publications Books in Print Beatrix Farrand s Plant Book for Dumbarton Oaks Online Publications Dumbarton Oaks Papers Dumbarton Oaks Medieval Library Annual Reports Resources for Authors and Editors Byzantine Seals Online Catalogue Bliss Tyler Correspondence Middle East Garden Traditions Manuscripts in the Byzantine

    Original URL path: http://www.doaks.org/resources/publications/books-in-print/beatrix-farrandas-plant-book-for-dumbarton-oaks (2016-02-18)
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  • About the Garden Archives — Dumbarton Oaks
    and sections on contemporary art installations There are multiple ways to browse and explore the Garden Archives using the gray tabs at the top of the page Introductory materials can be found in the Garden Archives Home tab via the links at the top of each page in this section Contents allows you to browse the contents of the archives via sections that can be expanded by clicking the plus sign Correspondence maps contemporary art installations a dditional designs and sketches and biographies are organized in their own sections drawings and photographs are organized by garden area The Index is the way to search if you are uncertain exactly where to begin It offers terms that link to relevant correspondence drawing and photographs Browse by clicking on alphabetical tabs and scrolling left and right or search using the search bar at the top right Search Refine permits a more granular search of contents using general text title keyword accession number and date fields After an initial search the Refine options allow you to narrow down searches by names of individuals and organizations material type garden area and historic period Further information about how to search for content can be found

    Original URL path: http://www.doaks.org/library-archives/garden-archives/home (2016-02-18)
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  • The Collection Goes Underground — Dumbarton Oaks
    of Pearl Harbor on December 7 1941 and America s entry into the conflict Dumbarton Oaks quickly shifted from the academic to the pragmatic Dumbarton Oaks in effect reacted to and then joined the war effort the collection was quickly packed and sent to various distant locations for safekeeping until the end of the war in 1945 use of the property was offered to relief organizations and then to the Departments of War and State first to expedite the war effort and then to facilitate the establishment of world peace a victory garden was maintained and Dumbarton Oaks Fellows provided the War Department with lists of potentially endangered sites monuments and artworks in Hungary Bulgaria Germany Greece Yugoslavia Romania and Tunisia in order to help insure their protection These activities notwithstanding throughout the war years the Blisses also continued to collect art in order to further improve the Byzantine collection that they had given to Harvard University On December 7 1941 the Dumbarton Oaks staff began to pack the Collection s artworks and antiquities in order to store them at various locations across the country including a basement vault that was constructed at Dumbarton Oaks Some objects went to other museum storerooms and the most precious objects were deposited in the vault of the City Bank Farmers Trust Company in New York City Having seen wartime destruction firsthand while living in France during the First World War the Blisses asked Dumbarton Oaks to make this preemptive move to protect artworks in case there was a military attack on Washington Mildred Bliss was particularly anxious On January 16 1942 she wrote to Director John Thacher I hope you are getting on with the protection of the vault in the new building for I have a feeling that the raiding season will

    Original URL path: http://www.doaks.org/75th-anniversary/blog/the-collection-goes-underground (2016-02-18)
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  • Anniversary Blog — Dumbarton Oaks
    especially after learning that she had no chance of being an exception to the retirement age after several conversations with gentle and compassionate John Thacher the first Director of Dumbarton Oaks Nonetheless Clark was able to remain at Dumbarton Oaks after her official retirement under the title Keeper of Rare Books Emerita In this capacity Clark continued her work at Dumbarton Oaks and received a small monthly pension in addition to living quarters at the Acorn House a small cottage on the Dumbarton Oaks property Later in the 1960s she also helped catalog the Mary Mellon collection of books and manuscripts on alchemy and the occult which Paul Mellon then gave to Yale University Robert Woods Bliss remembered Clark s service and friendship She was the doyenne of our staff and bore the strain and inconvenience of bringing order out of our personal Library as well as in organizing a Bindery rebuilding the Quarters and making catalogues at the same time For this and much besides the unfailing charm she brings to all her relationships and duties we thank her warmly Particularly fond of the Acorn House which had originally served as a kennel for the Blisses guard dog Doberman Pinchers Clark wrote about her new home lovingly in correspondence with Mildred describing her fundamental happiness and content in being allowed to reside in the small house and even admitting that she had not dared to put her delight into words for fear that she would suddenly wake up Mildred expressed her equal thrill at having Clark on the estate writing I long to cross your threshold and to have you think aloud to me as we sit on the little terrace sipping lemonade Read More American Defense The Harvard Group and Dumbarton Oaks Posted on Dec 07 2015 11 00 AM by Dumbarton Oaks Archives Permalink Filed under Scholars of Dumbarton Oaks Dumbarton Oaks at War Fellows Read comments None yet With much of the world at war and the United States soon to join the conflict Harvard University and Dumbarton Oaks also participated in the war effort In the fall of 1942 after America had entered the war the American Defense Harvard Group which had been established by Harvard University faculty two years earlier began working with the American Council of Learned Societies ACLS to devise plans for protecting cultural property in European areas that would be occupied by Allied military forces Their efforts led directly to President Roosevelt establishing on June 23 1943 the American Commission for the Protection and Salvage of Artistic and Historic Monuments in War Areas The Commission was to cooperate with the U S Army to protect cultural monuments and artworks in Europe and to gather information about war damage to such treasures The Commission also was to compile data on monuments and artworks in enemy or enemy occupied areas in the hope that they would be spared destruction by Allied forces if at all possible This last task fell in large part to Harvard s American Defense Group which had already been gathering such data for over a year The Harvard Group was to continue in its efforts and to turn over its research files which came to be called the Harvard Lists to the Commission Fellows and staff at Dumbarton Oaks 1943 1944 Back row Kurt Weitzmann Barbara Sessions Ethel Burnet Clark Paul Underwood and Milton Anastos Front row Elizabeth Sgalitzer Ettinghausen Josephine Harris Margaret Ames Alexander Rosalie Green and John S Thacher At Dumbarton Oaks the Junior Fellows had been working to build the institution s Research Archives on Byzantine sites in Europe and therefore had specialized knowledge of European and North African cities monuments and artworks In 1943 they were asked to join Harvard s American Defense Group and to contribute to the war effort important information concerning works of art in the following countries Bulgaria Germany Greece Yugoslavia Romania and Tunisia Their task was to prepare for the Commission detailed lists and manuals on the art monuments and customs of these areas In a letter of July 6 1943 the Harvard Group s Dr Hugh O Neill Hencken curator of European archaeology at the Peabody Museum wrote to Milton Anastos then a Dumbarton Oaks Junior Fellow Recent correspondence with the War Department makes it clear that our lists should be made in terms of culture in general rather than of art alone Consequently items should be starred not only in accordance with their artistic and scholarly importance but with regard to what value sentimental or otherwise is set upon them by the local population Wherever possible this value should be briefly explained We are also asked to supply information about the culture of the population in general their religion national and religious festivals including pilgrimages if possible with the dates on which these occur and any special or unusual customs a knowledge of which would aid American troops stationed in the region Margaret Ames Alexander a Junior Fellow at Dumbarton Oaks was assigned Hungary and Tunisia Her report on Hungary exemplifies the War Department s needs as described in the letter to Anastos Alexander s report includes a basic introduction to Hungary information regarding its council on monuments festivals pilgrimages holidays and a detailed list of monuments and artworks However it was her work on Tunisia for the Commission that fostered her lifelong interest in the Roman and early Byzantine floor mosaics in that country and her later detailed study of the mosaics built her scholarly career Margaret Alexander at Utica Tunisia 1971 Read More Collecting during the War Years Posted on Nov 16 2015 11 00 AM by Dumbarton Oaks Archives Permalink Filed under Byzantine Collection Dumbarton Oaks at War Collection Read comments None yet In September 1939 with the Second World War just begun many across the globe began to suffer and face economic uncertainty This resulted in a forced redefinition of priorities as resources became scarce and as the demands on these resources increased Even Dumbarton Oaks founder Robert Woods Bliss was not immune to such wartime financial challenges and his ability to acquire artworks for the Dumbarton Oaks Collection was temporarily reduced However the troubled times of the war years and the resulting financial precariousness also brought about price reductions and afforded bargaining opportunities that previously had not existed Bliss would take advantage of this in his negotiations with art dealers In a series of letters to the dealer Dikran Kelekian dated between September 26 and December 18 1939 Bliss outlined the status quo as he saw it He lamented that the war would cause sorrow suffering and misery to a vast number of people including Kelekian who had had to leave France for Lausanne Switzerland and later New York City Bliss explained that he had many calls now for assistance to war relief in various parts of Europe to which one cannot turn a deaf ear any more than one can to the deserving appeals to help one s own countrymen He concluded You must understand that we are not now in a position to act as we did before underscoring the economic tumult and travail which would characterize the next few years Kelekian had offered Bliss the pick of his antiquities stock including objects Kelekian had held for thirty years without offering them for sale In his letters Bliss explained his hesitation in purchasing these objects and referred to the mounting costs of the construction of the research library and museum at Dumbarton Oaks which the Blisses had begun in 1939 Bliss noted that the expenses for these buildings were more than anticipated especially in light of the increased costs of commodities which invariably follow the outbreak of war He added further that as everyone knows full well taxes and diminishing dividends have greatly reduced everyone s income Egypto Roman faience vase with a Dionysiac procession first century BCE BZ 1939 31 Byzantine Collection Dumbarton Oaks Museum Nevertheless Bliss was willing to bargain Apologizing for his frankness Bliss wrote Kelekian that he was interested in two objects but that he would buy them only if their prices were reduced significantly The objects of interest were an Egypto Roman faience vase with a Dionysiac procession and a Sasanian or Persian textile fragment with gazelles Kelekian wrote back on November 6 1939 Excellency I received this morning your very kind letter of September 26th addressed to me from California to Lausanne I wish to thank you sincerely for your sympathy and to assure you once again of my devotion to you and of my earnest desire to be of service to you The change of circumstances which you explain I quite understand In view of the situation I expect to make great sacrifices to be able to do business With regard to the Egyptian pottery vase which you mention I need not point out that it is a unique piece and a most important document in the history of ceramic art It is the link that connects the two great arts of Egypt and Persia I purchased it over thirty years ago and was so very fond of it that until the time I showed it to you about two years ago I had kept it in the bank and had not even shown it to my son Every book on potteries hereafter will have to mention it It is perhaps my extreme love for this piece that made me ask a price which you considered prohibitive although for an outstanding unique piece I believe there is no price I asked 25 000 and you thought 10 000 would be a fair price to which I did not agree In view of the present circumstances I am now willing to accept 10 000 for this piece As to the Sasanian textile with two gazelles for which I asked 2000 and which also I bought thirty years ago I shall sell it to you for 1000 I trust these drastic reductions will be satisfactory to you I want very much to see these two unusual pieces added to the Dumbarton Oaks Collection Textile with antelope in a roundel late seventh to first half of eighth century BZ 1939 32 Byzantine Collection Dumbarton Oaks Museum Two textile fragments with ibexes in roundels fifth to early sixth century BZ 1939 33 1 2 Byzantine Collection Dumbarton Oaks Museum Bliss acquired these two pieces in December along with two early Byzantine textile fragments with ibexes The purchase price however involved a further reduction Bliss paid 7 750 for the lot having told Kelekian that he was no longer in a position to pay even 10 000 for the vase Although greatly disappointed in the offer Kelekian agreed As for other pieces offered by Kelekian Bliss had to dismiss them as having no appeal to or place in the Dumbarton Oaks Collection a statement perhaps motivated as much by limited financial resources as by personal taste Documents show however that the Blisses had wanted to acquire the faience vase since they first heard about it in 1938 and the backstory of the Blisses interest in the piece is found in the Bliss Tyler correspondence archived at Harvard University and available on the Dumbarton Oaks website On June 28 1938 their friend Royall Tyler wrote to Mildred Bliss that Kelekian has a holy wonder of an Egypt Byz pottery vase a big jug really with bonshommes and vines in relief with a buff creamy glaze with touches of green for the leaves and dark sang de boeuf or aubergine for the grapes Not quite intact lip damaged and handle gone but body perfectly preserved and I regret to say a wonder of wonders The old rascal asks 25 000 for it Mildred Bliss replied on July 29 Something has got to be done be cause I have a feeling that the pottery will have to come to Dumbarton Oaks and certainly nothing approaching the price he mentioned to you can be paid Do think about this and have some inspiration as to the sort of technique we might use The technique presented itself the following year with the outbreak of war and the economic constraints that ensued Bargaining in those troubled times resulted in a seventy five percent reduction in the purchase price Read More John C Baker Taking Care of Business Posted on Oct 22 2015 11 00 AM by Dumbarton Oaks Archives Permalink Filed under The First Decade of Dumbarton Oaks Dumbarton Oaks at War Life at Dumbarton Oaks Read comments None yet John Calhoun Baker 1895 1999 served on the Dumbarton Oaks Administrative Committee between 1942 and 1945 A skilled education administrator with a shrewd mind for business Baker contributed much to the early development of Dumbarton Oaks Baker graduated from Juniata College in 1917 before receiving an MBA from Harvard Business School in 1923 After brief stints working at an advertising agency and a piano company Baker returned to Harvard Business School in 1926 as an instructor of foreign relationships and trade Within two years Baker was appointed Assistant Dean of the Business School He continued to climb up the ranks becoming Associate Director of Business Research in 1936 and Professor of Business Administration in 1940 In 1941 he became an Associate Dean of the University assuming many of the responsibilities that had formerly been assigned to the Vice President of Finances Possessing both financial and administrative operational skills Baker was a natural choice for the new Dumbarton Oaks Administrative Committee which was responsible for the supervision of the institution and for authorizing expenditures from the budget Baker s responsibilities on the Administrative Committee occasionally became paternal and personal In his first year for example Baker became concerned about the health and morale of the Fellows in the bleak atmosphere of the Second World War Anticipating the possibility of a coming food shortage Baker suggested that the Fellows be offered an opportunity to grow personal gardens so that they could cultivate some of their own food Dumbarton Oaks Administrative Committee 1944 Back row Edward K Rand George La Piana John C Baker Robert Blake Charles Rufus Morey Front row Albert M Friend Jr Paul Sachs Michael I Rostovtzeff Sirarpie Der Nersessian and Alexander A Vasiliev In late 1942 Dumbarton Oaks decided to invite Harvard University men resident in Washington and engaged in war work to hear distinguished speakers on current scientific historical and political subjects On April 20 1943 Baker delivered a talk titled Harvard at Dumbarton Oaks which was followed by an illustrated talk with moving pictures by Thomas Whittemore on The Mosaics of Santa Sophia In his talk Baker stressed In this country of great energy and rapid growth fine arts and the humanities are often neglected Potential scholars in the daily struggle to make a living neither have time to con template nor to complete their scholarly work Able students for want of funds turn to college or secondary school teaching or business instead of scholarship In many universities pupils and teachers are unable to work together chiefly because of the large number of students a professor must teach or because physical conditions are such as to make association impossible Often Scholarship is forced to exist in narrow sectional grooves rather than in a friendly international atmosphere All of this was and is known by Mr and Mrs Bliss as well as by Harvard authorities and Dumbarton Oaks was planned and is being operated to offset some of these almost insuperable handicaps to American scholarship The full text of John C Baker s address Harvard at Dumbarton Oaks can be found here Read More The Victory Garden Posted on Oct 19 2015 11 00 AM by Dumbarton Oaks Archives Permalink Filed under Kitchen Gardens Dumbarton Oaks at War Dumbarton Oaks Gardens Gardens Read comments None yet During the Second World War Dumbarton Oaks undertook many activities to contribute to the war effort The gardens were opened for relief functions including the British War Relief for Refugee Children in England 1942 the Scottish Evacuation Plans Committee for the benefit of the Scottish War Relief 1942 and the Commission for Polish Relief 1943 On at least two occasions in 1944 buffet suppers were served in the gardens to convalescent servicemen from Walter Reed Hospital under the auspices of the Home Hospitality Committee Civilian War Services Dumbarton Oaks also assisted the Arts and Skills Corps of the American Red Cross in their work at the Forest Glen Hospital an annex of the Walter Reed Hospital Dumbarton Oaks lent equipment supplies and personnel to install a small bindery for the purpose of teaching convalescent soldiers the art of bookbinding Dumbarton Oaks also had a victory garden which had since at least 1927 produced vegetables for the estate Although in 1941 Director John Thacher had questioned the utility of the vegetable garden and doubted whether growing produce was economical by 1943 the popularity of victory gardens in America had convinced Thacher as well as garden adviser Beatrix Farrand and Mildred Bliss that at least symbolically it was important to maintain the vegetable garden Victory gardens which were also known as war gardens and food gardens for defense were being planted at private residences and in public parks throughout America during the war Their utility was to reduce pressure on the public food supply thereby indirectly aiding the war effort Perhaps more importantly however these gardens became morale boosters during the dark days of war in that amateur gardeners could feel empowered by their contribution of labor and rewarded by the produce they grew This made victory gardens a popular part of daily life on the home front Dumbarton Oaks for its part also set about to instruct victory gardeners in the science of gardening Several times between March and May 1943 James Bryce head gardener at Dumbarton Oaks held on site demonstrations to show the elementary techniques of preparing and planting a victory garden These demonstrations were given

    Original URL path: http://www.doaks.org/75th-anniversary/blog?Subject=Dumbarton+Oaks+at+War (2016-02-18)
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  • Anniversary Blog — Dumbarton Oaks
    the same hoard as their silver paten BZ 1924 5 and liturgical fan BZ 1936 23 and the Blisses and the Tylers often referred to these pieces as their family When Royall Tyler first alerted the Blisses to the paten in a letter of January 26 1924 he noted It is perhaps the most moving thing possibly excepting my chalice I ve ever seen for sale If you do get it live with it for a good long time anyway It will teach you a great deal about the age when Santa Sophia and the great churches of Ravenna were built when the most perfect Byzantine enamels were made and the throne of Maximian was carved Eventually give it to the Cabinet des Médailles the only place in the world I know of that s fit to receive it You may imagine how excited I am The thought of your having it intoxicates me and it would be a happiness for life to think that the two pieces would one day be joined together and live happily ever after at the Cabinet des Médailles Byzantine amethyst gem depicting Christ gift of Mildred and Robert Woods Bliss in memory of Royall Tyler 1953 BZ 1953 7 Maya panel from Palenque gift to Dumbarton Oaks from Mildred Bliss in memory of her husband Robert Woods Bliss 1963 PC B 528 The Blisses themselves made a gift to Dumbarton Oaks in memory of Royall Tyler a sixth seventh century carved amethyst gem with a standing figure of Christ Tyler had discovered the intaglio gem at the Parisian dealer Charles Ratton and had recommended it to then Director John Thacher on April 16 1952 The Blisses presented the gem to Dumbarton Oaks almost exactly a year later on April 14 1953 which was also their forty fifth wedding anniversary Between 1958 and his death on April 19 1962 Robert Woods Bliss was engaged in the construction of the Philip Johnson designed pavilion for his Pre Columbian Collection see post Unfortunately he would not live to see the building s completion or the installation of the collection Mildred Bliss took over that responsibility opening the collection in December 1963 In memory of her husband Mildred Bliss gave Dumbarton Oaks a large limestone Maya panel from Palenque PC B 528 Others also remembered Robert Bliss with gifts to the Pre Columbian Collection Director John Thacher gave a Maya polychrome ceramic PC B 563 Maya polychrome ceramic gift of John S Thacher in memory of Robert Woods Bliss 1968 PC B 563 Floor Panel gift of Ernest Brummer and Mrs Joseph Brummer in memory of Joseph Brummer 1949 BZ 1949 2 Other gifts made in memoriam to the Dumbarton Oaks Collection include a Cosmati floor panel BZ 1949 2 given in 1949 by Ernest Brummer and Mrs Joseph Brummer in memory of the dealer Joseph Brummer who had died on April 14 1947 The Blisses and Dumbarton Oaks had acquired some 160 Byzantine objects from the Brummers In 1951 Victoria Tytus Steward who was Mildred Bliss s goddaughter gave the Byzantine Collection a silver dish BZ 1951 31 in memory of her father the archaeologist and collector Robb de Peyster Tytus 1876 1913 Director John Thacher gave the Byzantine Collection a gold and cloisonné enamel closure with representations of Christ and Mary BZ 1965 4 in memory of his mother Frances Lake Thacher who had died in January 1962 And in 1969 the numismatist Alfred Bellinger who had authored volumes on the Byzantine coin collection gave the Byzantine Collection three Byzantine textile fragments BZ 1969 61a c in memory of his sister the textile specialist Louisa Bellinger who died in November 1968 In the early years of Dumbarton Oaks Louisa Bellinger had worked on the Byzantine Textile Census see post Read More Philip Johnson s New Pavilion at Dumbarton Oaks Posted on Dec 21 2015 11 00 AM by Dumbarton Oaks Archives Permalink Filed under Philip Johnson Pre Columbian Collection Philip Johnson Pavilion Collection Oaks News Pre Columbian Pavilion January 2016 Read comments None yet By the late 1950s not quite two decades after the Blisses had given Dumbarton Oaks to Harvard University space was already at a premium Mildred Bliss s rare collection of garden landscape books had outgrown the Founders Room where it was then housed and the growing Byzantine coins and seals collections as well as Beatrix Farrand s gift of drawings plans and letters relating to the Dumbarton Oaks Gardens needed space to be properly housed On December 20 1957 Robert Bliss wrote the President and Fellows of Harvard College For some time past it has been evident that additional space must be provided at Dumbarton Oaks for the exhibition of objects in the Collection not now on display as well as to provide suitable rooms for the use and study of a library of books on gardens their design and ornament and related subjects which Mrs Bliss has been collecting in recent years and which it is her hope eventually to convey to Dumbarton Oaks Also adequate space should be prepared where the collection of Byzantine coins and seals at Dumbarton Oaks can be exhibited and studied In addition it will be necessary to make provision for increased stack room As momentum built for a new addition at Dumbarton Oaks the Blisses realized that this should also include space for Robert Bliss s collection of Pre Columbian art then on display at the National Gallery of Art Philip Johnson 1906 2005 Somewhat surprisingly the modernist architect Philip Johnson was approached to design the addition which was to be located to the south of the Byzantine Collection on 32nd Street Johnson designed a pavilion consisting of eight domed glass cylinders and his design pleased the Blisses when he submitted it and a model in 1959 However they were hesitant to approve the design for its intended location which was to the side of the front yard of the Dumbarton Oaks mansion By 1960 a compromise solution was reached the Johnson pavilion reduced in scale would be built in a secluded area known as the Copse to the north of the Music Room It would house Robert Bliss s Pre Columbian art and library and there would be ample room in the basement for the Byzantine coins and seals as well as a much needed new photography lab Moreover the sleek modernity of the building s design and the innovative Plexiglas stands and cases that were eventually designed for the pavilion would show off the Pre Columbian objects as artworks To house Mildred Bliss s garden library a traditional red brick building matching in size the two existing Byzantine Collection pavilions would be designed by the Blisses friend Frederic Rhinelander King and be built where the Johnson pavilion had first been envisioned see post Philip Johnson model for the new museum addition at Dumbarton Oaks 1959 Helmut Jacoby for Philip Johnson Associates Architects Pre Columbian Pavilion Watercolor 1960 The Dumbarton Oaks Administrative Board and the Trustees for Harvard University were hesitant to approve the additions however They feared that the new buildings would divert resources from the established Byzantine Studies program They wanted strict assurances that the existing focus on Byzantine studies would not be diminished in any way In response to these fears the Blisses arranged to contribute additional funds to the endowment to cover the maintenance of the new Pre Columbian and garden library wings Nor was this the last hurdle to be cleared New construction in Georgetown needed the approval of the D C Commission of Fine Arts tasked with preserving the Old Georgetown atmosphere that characterized the Historic District At first the Commission seemed a possible threat to the erection of Johnson s modern structure Ultimately the Commission granted their permission to begin construction with the understanding that a brick wall and evergreen plantings would hide the pavilion from street view All of the obstacles now removed building finally commenced uninhibited Elizabeth P Benson and James Mayo first Pre Columbian Collection installation 1963 With a new home under construction for the Pre Columbian Collection the final step was to find the proper person to install and take care of it Elizabeth Betty Benson who had worked extensively with the Bliss collection at the National Gallery of Art was asked to become the Curator of the Pre Columbian Collection in its new home In a letter to Samuel Lothrop Bliss voiced his endorsement for Benson whom he noted had such an interest in the collection and knew it almost as well as I do Unfortunately Robert Woods Bliss would not live to see the Philip Johnson pavilion completed or his collection exhibited at Dumbarton Oaks He died just a year before the Robert Woods Bliss Collection of Pre Columbian Art was opened on December 10 1963 to critical and public acclaim In his foreword to a new Handbook of the Pre Columbian Collection Director John Thacher remarked The Robert Woods Bliss Collection of Pre Columbian Art was formed by the strong personal interest of a man deeply engaged in his subject After decades of collecting and years of planning for the art to be exhibited Bliss s desire that the public learn of the artistic splendor of ancient America has been realized Read more about Philip Johnson and the Dumbarton Oaks Pre Columbian Pavilion here Pre Columbian Pavilion Interior Read More Final Touches The Byzantine Collection and Joseph Brummer 1940 Posted on Nov 30 2015 11 00 AM by Dumbarton Oaks Archives Permalink Filed under Byzantine Collection Collection Read comments None yet Although the Blisses already had begun planning for the Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection in 1932 it was only in late 1936 that they decided to give the institute to Harvard University during their lifetimes To this end in September 1939 they engaged the architect Thomas T Waterman 1900 1951 to design and build additions for a library and a museum With the completion of these structures in late 1939 the Blisses then turned to the task of completing their Byzantine art collection or as Mildred Bliss put it completing the collecting end of the Dumbarton Oaks plan In 1940 the Blisses acquired a record 109 objects for the Byzantine Collection Of these forty one came from the New York dealer Joseph Brummer from whom the Blisses previously had acquired thirty objects for the collection The Brummer galleries in Paris and New York thus proved to be the most significant resource for the Dumbarton Oaks Byzantine Collection Joseph Brummer 1883 1947 Among the objects that the Blisses acquired from Joseph Brummer in 1940 are two steelyards and two lead filled bronze weights in the form of Byzantine empresses Each empress is adorned with a diadem a set of pearl earrings a necklace made of large stones a cloak and a tunic These weights of approximately three and six pounds respectively were used with the steelyards suspension balances involving hooks that allowed grocers and butchers to weigh their goods Although it was once thought that these weights were portraits of actual Byzantine empresses scholars now believe that they are generic representations intended to reinforce the legitimacy of the sale That this authority is represented as an empress and not an emperor may be due to the continuation of the pre Christian Greco Roman tradition of crafting weights to resemble pagan goddesses When Joseph Brummer offered the steelyard and weights to the Blisses in February 1940 Robert Bliss surprisingly wrote him on February 13 As regards the bronze scales should we purchase them I hope that you will try to find a better pair of weights Both Mrs Bliss and I have seen better ones and hope that some day you may be able to replace these by ones more worthy of the Collection Brummer quickly wrote back on the 15th As for the bronze scales I think it would be a mistake to exchange the weights for another pair because these two were found with the scales and were made for them The owner of these scales in the Byzantine period used these weights Perhaps if I can find other weights you might add them to the collection to show how weights of better quality look but do not replace them Byzantine Steelyard Weight acquired from Joseph Brummer on March 26 1940 Byzantine Collection BZ 1940 18 3 Dumbarton Oaks Museum Byzantine Steelyard Weight acquired from Joseph Brummer on March 26 1940 Byzantine Collection BZ 1940 18 4 Dumbarton Oaks Museum Mildred Bliss also turned to Joseph Brummer for furnishings for the new museum On July 22 1940 Berta Segall who was preparing the new installation wrote Brummer Mrs Bliss would like to buy several pieces of ancient furniture for the new building and would appreciate it if you could help her to find them In the first place she wants an oak table the size of a small desk which would be used as a desk for the attendant in the entrance hall of the new building The top should have room enough for a telephone a buzzer some writing material and a lamp Mrs Bliss thinks either of the very simplest Louis XV or a simple Louis XVI bureau de ministre or else a peasant table A drawer would be convenient as space is rather restricted She is also interested in simple easy chairs canná bois naturel Régence or later None of these pieces should be museum pieces and Mrs Bliss feels that anything you have would be too good for the purpose She would appreciate it therefore if you would be good enough to give her addresses of cheap shops on what used to be Fourth Avenue She would like to come to New York and do some shopping herself She has not bought ancient furniture in this country yet and doesn t know the sources She would therefore be very glad to have you help Byzantine Collection Gallery photographed on December 15 1940 Byzantine Collection Gallery photographed on December 15 1940 Read More Collecting during the War Years Posted on Nov 16 2015 11 00 AM by Dumbarton Oaks Archives Permalink Filed under Byzantine Collection Dumbarton Oaks at War Collection Read comments None yet In September 1939 with the Second World War just begun many across the globe began to suffer and face economic uncertainty This resulted in a forced redefinition of priorities as resources became scarce and as the demands on these resources increased Even Dumbarton Oaks founder Robert Woods Bliss was not immune to such wartime financial challenges and his ability to acquire artworks for the Dumbarton Oaks Collection was temporarily reduced However the troubled times of the war years and the resulting financial precariousness also brought about price reductions and afforded bargaining opportunities that previously had not existed Bliss would take advantage of this in his negotiations with art dealers In a series of letters to the dealer Dikran Kelekian dated between September 26 and December 18 1939 Bliss outlined the status quo as he saw it He lamented that the war would cause sorrow suffering and misery to a vast number of people including Kelekian who had had to leave France for Lausanne Switzerland and later New York City Bliss explained that he had many calls now for assistance to war relief in various parts of Europe to which one cannot turn a deaf ear any more than one can to the deserving appeals to help one s own countrymen He concluded You must understand that we are not now in a position to act as we did before underscoring the economic tumult and travail which would characterize the next few years Kelekian had offered Bliss the pick of his antiquities stock including objects Kelekian had held for thirty years without offering them for sale In his letters Bliss explained his hesitation in purchasing these objects and referred to the mounting costs of the construction of the research library and museum at Dumbarton Oaks which the Blisses had begun in 1939 Bliss noted that the expenses for these buildings were more than anticipated especially in light of the increased costs of commodities which invariably follow the outbreak of war He added further that as everyone knows full well taxes and diminishing dividends have greatly reduced everyone s income Egypto Roman faience vase with a Dionysiac procession first century BCE BZ 1939 31 Byzantine Collection Dumbarton Oaks Museum Nevertheless Bliss was willing to bargain Apologizing for his frankness Bliss wrote Kelekian that he was interested in two objects but that he would buy them only if their prices were reduced significantly The objects of interest were an Egypto Roman faience vase with a Dionysiac procession and a Sasanian or Persian textile fragment with gazelles Kelekian wrote back on November 6 1939 Excellency I received this morning your very kind letter of September 26th addressed to me from California to Lausanne I wish to thank you sincerely for your sympathy and to assure you once again of my devotion to you and of my earnest desire to be of service to you The change of circumstances which you explain I quite understand In view of the situation I expect to make great sacrifices to be able to do business With regard to the Egyptian pottery vase which you mention I need not point out that it is a unique piece and a most important document in the history of ceramic art It is the link that connects the two great arts of Egypt and Persia I purchased it over thirty years ago and was so very fond of it that until the time I showed it to you about two years ago I had kept it in the bank and had not even shown it to my son Every book on potteries hereafter will have to mention it It is perhaps my extreme love for this piece that made me ask a price

    Original URL path: http://www.doaks.org/75th-anniversary/blog?Subject=Collection (2016-02-18)
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  • The Victory Garden — Dumbarton Oaks
    under the auspices of the Home Hospitality Committee Civilian War Services Dumbarton Oaks also assisted the Arts and Skills Corps of the American Red Cross in their work at the Forest Glen Hospital an annex of the Walter Reed Hospital Dumbarton Oaks lent equipment supplies and personnel to install a small bindery for the purpose of teaching convalescent soldiers the art of bookbinding Dumbarton Oaks also had a victory garden which had since at least 1927 produced vegetables for the estate Although in 1941 Director John Thacher had questioned the utility of the vegetable garden and doubted whether growing produce was economical by 1943 the popularity of victory gardens in America had convinced Thacher as well as garden adviser Beatrix Farrand and Mildred Bliss that at least symbolically it was important to maintain the vegetable garden Victory gardens which were also known as war gardens and food gardens for defense were being planted at private residences and in public parks throughout America during the war Their utility was to reduce pressure on the public food supply thereby indirectly aiding the war effort Perhaps more importantly however these gardens became morale boosters during the dark days of war in that amateur gardeners could feel empowered by their contribution of labor and rewarded by the produce they grew This made victory gardens a popular part of daily life on the home front Dumbarton Oaks for its part also set about to instruct victory gardeners in the science of gardening Several times between March and May 1943 James Bryce head gardener at Dumbarton Oaks held on site demonstrations to show the elementary techniques of preparing and planting a victory garden These demonstrations were given to members of the American Women s Voluntary Services and other interested Washington citizens Bryce covered the topics of

    Original URL path: http://www.doaks.org/75th-anniversary/blog/the-victory-garden (2016-02-18)
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  • The National Defense Research Committee — Dumbarton Oaks
    on the premises until March 1946 This unit of the Research Committee was chaired by Harvard University president James Bryant Conant Part of the unit s work which was also carried on at other locations was planning the development of the world s first controlled nuclear chain reaction a critical step in attaining an atomic bomb the goal of the Manhattan Project and the Los Alamos National Laboratory At Dumbarton Oaks the Research Committee also worked on the development of chemical warfare agents In 1943 the Committee s work at Dumbarton Oaks led Robert Bliss famously to remark Dumbarton Oaks now presents a strange juxtaposition One half of the building is devoted to evolving means to kill human beings more speedily and in greater numbers the other half continues to develop greater knowledge on the artistic creation of man One works for the development of the most hideous activity of war the other for the discovery and preservation of the beauty of human expression However not all of the Research Committee s activities at Dumbarton Oaks focused on the destructive capabilities of war In 1943 the Committee issued a Memorandum on meeting to discuss development of 5 S 461 ointment

    Original URL path: http://www.doaks.org/75th-anniversary/blog/the-national-defense-research-committee (2016-02-18)
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