A TOUR OF THE RED ROOM
Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) JFK+50 will be taking the next few blog posts to discuss the rooms we will be touring in our self-guided tour of the White House next week.
Today we will take a look at the RED ROOM*. James Hoban labeled it as the President's Anti-chamber and it became a parlor or waiting area for the President's Library and Cabinet Room. Under President James Monroe it was furnished in "simple and classic design" of the Empire style.
In President Kennedy's time, the Red Room was furnished "as a splendid Empire parlor" (1810-1830) and the walls were hung with cerise silk sporting gold borders. The fabric was woven after a French Empire sample.
One item of note in the Red Room is a "little Empire music stand" which sits by the fireplace. It bears a copy of "Lafayette's March" which dates back to 1825.
On the Great French Desk is an inkstand bearing the inscription "T. Jefferson, 1804."
The red sofa in the room belonged to First Lady Dolley Madison. It is upholstered in the same silk as the wall covering. A Gueridon with fine inlay and bronze caryatid heads with marble top is located in the Red Room. It was made by French-American cabinet maker Charles Honore Lannuier**. Mrs. John F. Kennedy proudly pointed out this piece to viewers of her Tour of the White House in February 1962.
On the fireplace mantel is an 18th century French musical clock presented to the White House in 1952 by Vincent Aurioly, President of France. Over the fireplace hangs Edward Andrews' painting of Thomas Jefferson. The room also displays portraits of Presidents Taylor, T. Roosevelt, Wilson, FDR, & Truman. Here also are portraits of Alexander Hamilton by John Trumbull and Herbert Hoover by Elmer Wesley Greene.
One distinctive item seen in the Red Room is a great convex mirror with a golden eagle on top.
*The Red Room is 28 by 22.5 feet., the exact dimensions of the Green Room discussed in yesterday's post. In the 1801 inventory it was identified as the Breakfast Room. It was the favorite sitting room of Mary Lincoln.
Jacqueline Kennedy preferred a "muted red" color over the "fire engine" red that had been used in the past. It was in the Red Room Mrs. Kennedy received foreign dignitaries after JFK's funeral on Nov 25, 1963.
**Charles Honore Lannuier (1779-1819) was born in Chantilly, France. He fled the French Revolution & came to America in 1803. CHL worked in mahogany with satinwood & rosewood venner inlays.
"The Red Room," The White House Museum, www.whitehousemuseum.org/
"The White House, An Historic Guide," White House Historical Association, Washington, D.C., 1962.