White House Chair

Napoleonic Chair
by jamesmonroe3d
on Sketchfab

Museum Object File Information:

Accession Number: JM76.216

Collection: Laurence Gouverneur Hoes Collection

Category: Building Furnishings

Subcategory: Furniture

Description: A ceremonial French empire-style chair made of mahogany. The chair has a straight, squared-back topped with an arched brass crest.  The crest of the chair is hand-carved with an eagle motif.  The eagle, depicted with its wings spread, is standing within a laurel wreath holding a scrolling ribbon in its talons.  On the top-most portion of the crest rail is a carved sheaf of wheat with floral and oak leaf decorations.  The stiles of the chair resemble fluted columns with Corinthian capitals, the side-rails are cushioned in the center and the hand grips are fluted.  Supporting each padded arm rest, is a winged lion head, sitting atop a block corner, then decorated with an applied flower.  The front legs end in claw feet, while the back legs are slightly raked and tapered. The full back cushion is surrounded by decorative beading.  The seat, back and arm rests are upholstered in a gold and green striped silk fabric provided by Scalamandre in New York.  The entire piece, with the exception of the upholstery, is gilded.
[C. G. Sloan, “Appraisal of the Collections at the James Monroe Museum” (unpublished, 1989), 45.]

Family tradition suggests that Monroe owned the piece and used it in the President’s house from 1817 to 1825. Today, a large group of pieces are now on view at the White House, on long-term loan from the Philadelphia Museum of Art [William G. Allman, the White House, to Rosalie Sullvian, James Monroe Museum, TLS, July 22, 1983.  This letter is in the Curator’s files, “JM76.216.”  The Philadelphia Museum of Art received its set in 1931 from Henry Livington Lee, descendants of May Digges Lee, second wife of Samuel L. Gouverneur, Sr.  the set was loaned to the White House from a New York source and a private donor.  Monroe’s entire original suite may have been sold by Samuel L. Gouverneur, Sr., c1852 when he sold Oak Hill after Maria Monroe Gouverneur’s death].
The origin of the chair is unknown though research suggests that it was one of a large suite made in Italy. The Minneapolis Institute of Art owns such a chair with a “Fine Italian Empire” attribution and found that there were others at the Villa Demidoff a San Donato near Florence [Jennifer Komar, Minneapolis Institute of Art, to Lee Langston-Harrison, James Monroe Museum, TLS, March 17, 1995.  Ms. Komar included a copy of a catalogue entry from an auction at Christie’s in New York (1994).  Christie’s suggested the “Italian” origin].  However, there is a strikingly similar chair at Josephine Beauharnais’ home Malmasion, near Paris, that has been referred to as a French “Ceremonial chair” or an “a la Reine” chair from a set made for Napoleon in 1810 [Alvar Gonzalez-Palacios, The French Empire Style (London: Hamlyn Publishing Co., Ltd., 1966), 112].

Date: 1805-1815

Condition: Excellent

Provenance: James Monroe – – – Marian Campbell Gouverneur – Mrs. John Cropper who returned it to Rose Gouverneur Hoes as part of her estate – Laurence G. Hoes – JMMF – State of VA.

Collector: James Monroe Museum and Memorial Library

Used: President’s House, 1817-1825

Originally Owned By: James Monroe

Place of Origin: France, Italy or United States

Material: Mahogany/Brass/Gilt/Silk/Straw

Citation:“White House Chair.” JM76.216. James Monroe Museum and Memorial Library.

Object Bibliography:

Sloan, C.G. “Appraisal of the Collections at the James Monroe Museum.” 1989.

Gonzalez-Palacios, Alvar. The French Empire Style. London: Hamlyn Publishing Co., Ltd., 1966.

Image Gallery:

White House Chair
White House Chair. Photo by Mary Fesak.

Wedding Shoe

by James Monroe 3D
on Sketchfab

Object File Information:

Accession Number: JM76.087

Collection: Laurence Gouverneur Hoes Collection

Category: Personal Artifacts

Subcategory: Clothing – Footwear

Description: One of a pair of slippers covered in a patterned cream-colored silk brocade, embroidered with cream silk treads in arepeating wreath medallion design, with a paste buckle. [C. G. Sloan, “Appraisal of the Collections at the James Monroe Museum,” (unpublished, 1989), 18]. The slipper sports a French heel and two cloth straps that cross over a peaked instep, which is then held in place by an oval-shaped rhinestone buckle [Ibid.].

The shoes were originally worn by Elizabeth Kortright on her wedding day in February of 1786. They were made in the same fabric as Elizabeth’s wedding gown. This material was originally purchased for Elizabeth’s mother, Hannah Kortright. Mrs. Kortright died in 1774 and the fabric was stored until Elizabeth had it made into her wedding outfit. Surplus fabric was probably used to make these shoes.

Elizabeth married James Monroe in a small ceremony in New York and the couple honeymooned on Long Island. Shortly after the wedding, the newlyweds moved to Fredericksburg, Virginia where Monroe established a law practice.

Date: 1785

Condition: Fair

Height: 4.500 in

Width: 3.000 in

Dimension Notes: Buckle measures 1 inch

Provenance: James Monroe – Maria Hester (Monroe) Gouverneur- Samuel L. Gouverneur, Sr. – Mary Digges (Lee) Gouverneur -Samuel L. Gouverneur, Jr. – Marian Campbell Gouverneur – Rose Gouverneur Hoes – Laurence Gouverneur Hoes – James Monroe Memorial Foundation – Commonwealth of Virginia.

Collector: James Monroe Museum and Memorial Library

Originally Owned By: Elizabeth Kortright Monroe

Place of Origin: England

Material: silk/paste

Citation:“Wedding Shoe.”JM76.087. James Monroe Museum and Memorial Library.

Object Bibliography: Sloan, C. G. “Appraisal of the Collections at the James Monroe Museum.” 1989.

Image Gallery:

Elizabeth Monroe Wedding Shoe Detail
Elizabeth Monroe Wedding Shoe Detail. Photo by Lila Spitz.
Elizabeth Monroe Wedding Shoe Side
Elizabeth Monroe Wedding Shoe Side. Photo by Lila Spitz.
Elizabeth Monroe Wedding Shoe Front
Elizabeth Monroe Wedding Shoe Front. Photo by Lila Spitz.