Orchestrating Elegance: Alma-Tadema and the Marquand Music Room

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Edited by Kathleen M. Morris and Alexis Goodin

Essays by Kathleen M. Morris, Alexis Goodin, Melody Barnett Deusner, and Hugh Glover

During the nineteenth century, New York City’s grand mansions on Fifth and Madison Avenues boasted sumptuous interiors, often with each room decorated in a different historic style. Financier, art collector, and philanthropist Henry Gurdon Marquand famously commissioned eminent British painter Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema (1836–1912) to create the Greco-Pompeian music room for his home. This beautiful publication documents and examines the celebrated design, which included an elaborately decorated Steinway grand piano, a large suite of matching furniture, and an embroidery scheme for the upholstery and coordinated curtains. Alma-Tadema secured Frederic Leighton to create a major painting for the room’s ceiling and Sir Edward Poynter to paint the piano’s fallboard. One of Alma-Tadema’s most famous paintings A Reading from Homer, was painted for this room. For the first time since Marquand’s death in 1902, the contents of this exceptional room have been brought together and considered in light of Marquand’s patronage, Alma-Tadema’s career, the firm that manufactured the furniture, and the social function of the music room.   

Alexis Goodin is curatorial research associate at the Clark Art Institute. Kathleen M. Morris is Sylvia and Leonard Marx Director of Collections and Exhibitions and curator of decorative arts at the Clark Art Institute.

220 pages, 8.5 x 10.5 in. 
157 color and black-and-white illustrations
Published by the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute and distributed by Yale University Press

ISBN 9781935998280