I have been remiss lately in posting in a timely way. Our trip to see the mansion, Winterthur, in Wilmington, Delaware was a few months ago but still on my mind. It’s a fairly long post.
Here are a few photos I took of the home which was built by a relative of Henry Francis du Pont in the 1830’s. Early ancestors came from a small Swiss town and named their home after it, pronounced winter-tour.
The above photo was taken from behind the mansion.
One of the terrace garden areas:
The DuPont family came to America from France in 1800 for greater opportunities. I believe they already had a bit of wealth, but became industrialists in railroad and founded the pre-cursor to the DuPont Company. This company started out as a gunpowder mill. It is now worth billions and is the fourth largest chemical company worldwide.
Four generations of DuPonts lived in the home until the 1960’s. It was enlarged over the years from a 12-room home to it’s current 175 rooms.
Ok, that was my history lesson! I love the history behind everything.
Basically, the reasoning behind Henry F. turning his home into a museum is that he travelled so much all over the world (and collected so much furniture and antiques) he was a 20th century rich hoarder. Lol. Not only was he an avid art collector and horticulturalist, he was also well-known as a premier breeder of Holstein cattle.
Here’s a view of the house (beyond) from the gift shop conservatory and plants you can purchase. Henry was a horticulturist and designed the huge garden on the estate. It’s beautiful every season.
Part of the beautiful 1,000 acres of woodland and rolling meadows of the estate:
Because visitors are not allowed to take photos inside the huge mansion, I took a few of the visitors’ gallery of 17th – 20th century furniture.
Chest of Drawers with Doors, made in London, approx. 1650
This chest was made of oak, walnut, red cedar, snake-wood, bone, and mother-of-pearl. The wealthy people in London started commissioning these from Dutch and Flemish cabinetmakers living in the London area. Snakewood was a very exotic wood that came from NE South America.
Side Chair attributed to Duncan Phyfe workshop, New York, 1816
This chair is made of mahogany, mahogany veneer, ebony, ash, and cherry wood. As one of Phyfe’s most iconic designs, the chair was inspired by Ancient Greek chairs. Notice the curved back, hand-carved beading, and ebonized dowels for the lyre “strings” on the back splat.
Plate, Wine Glass, Teapot, 1790-1815
Plate – French porcelain by Dihl and Gerhard
Wine Glass – nonlead glass made in Germany or Bohemia (now Czech Rep.)
Teapot – silver with wood handle by William Van Buren in New York
This table cover, as they call it, was made by the Deerfield Society of Blue and White, Deerfield, Massachusetts. They revived 18th century needlework designs.
Needlework Picture, 1680-1720
Embroidered on linen, this needlework was made by Elizabeth Edwards approximately 1711. They are unsure if it was made in America or England. It’s a very ornate design in the William and Mary style with swirling flowers of silk.
Easter Bunny and Egg, 1800-1850
Johann C. Gilbert – Watercolor and ink on paper. Done in Berks County, PA approximately 1800. This is one of the earliest known American depictions of the Easter bunny with colored eggs. This custom was brought to America in the 1700’s by German immigrants. Mr. Gilbert was a schoolmaster.
Rare Easter eggs of 1816-1850 on the right made by the Pennsylvania Germans. They boiled eggs with onion skins, then scratched designs into the shell with a sharp pin.
I highly recommend taking the many tours of this grand estate. Winterthur has 175 rooms decorated with furniture and art used in America from 1640-1860. You wouldn’t believe how much there is to take in. There are rooms complete with architecture taken from castles in Europe that were being dismantled.
There is much to do in the Wilmington area. Nearby are Nemours Mansion (built by another DuPont) and Longwood Gardens (upcoming post).
(All photos taken by me except for featured image from http://www.winterthur.org/?p=1201)