Johns Hopkins Gazette | March 16, 2009
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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University March 16, 2009 | Vol. 38 No. 26
Evergreen Announces 'The House Beautiful' Lecture Series

Batimore-born decorator Billy Baldwin (who designed this room) said that his visits to the Garrett home, known as Evergreen, opened up a new world to him.

By Heather Egan Stalfort
Johns Hopkins University Museums

The second annual The House Beautiful lecture series at The Johns Hopkins University's Evergreen Museum & Library explores ways in which Evergreen has both inspired — and been inspired by — trends in artful design.

The series presents notable experts and authors in the field of artistic design and decorative arts. A lightly catered reception follows each of the lectures, which will take place in the Bakst Theatre.

Tickets are $20 each lecture, $15 for Evergreen members and students with valid ID. Series tickets are $48, $33 for Evergreen members and students with valid ID.

Advance pre-paid reservations are recommended as seating is limited. Tickets are available online through MissionTix at, by phone at 410-516-0341 or in person at the museum (handling charges apply for phone and online orders).

The three lectures in the series, which begins next week, are as follows:

"Billy Baldwin: Baltimore's Brilliant Boy," by James Abbott, 6:30 to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, March 25.

"The gates of Evergreen had opened up a whole new world to me. There I was surrounded by the best art and music.... I knew I could never return to the life I had led before." So wrote Baltimore- born and internationally known Billy Baldwin (1903-83) — the "dean of decorators" of the postwar era — after one of his many visits to the Garrett home.

Evergreen Museum & Library director-curator James Abbott will explore the wisdom, versatility and occasional wickedness of Baltimore's most recognized interior decorator, and examine the unique relationship between his hometown and his still-influential design vocabulary, which melded common sense practicality with the fastidious precision of a gentleman's tailor.

Before joining Johns Hopkins, Abbott held the position of curator at the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Baltimore Museum of Art, Boscobel Restoration and Historic Hudson Valley. His publications include Jansen Furniture (2007) and Jansen (2006), both published by Acanthus Press.

"Lockwood de Forest and the East Indian Craft Revival," by Roberta A. Mayer, 6:30 to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, April 22.

Lockwood de Forest (1850-1932) is best known as an artistic decorator with a flair for designs based on the arts and crafts of the Middle East and India. He drew attention to the work of the mistri of Ahmedabad, India — a subcaste of highly skilled wood carvers — and House Beautiful magazine described his New York City home as "the most Indian house in America."

De Forest, who began his professional career in partnership with Louis Comfort Tiffany, created Anglo-Indian interior designs that were in demand by some of the most visible figures of the Gilded Age, including Mary Elizabeth Garrett.

Roberta A. Mayer, de Forest expert and author of the new release Lockwood de Forest: Furnishing the Gilded Age With a Passion for India (University of Delaware Press, 2009), will explore the designer's career within the context of the late-19th-century East Indian Craft Revival. Mayer is an associate professor of art history at Bucks County (Pennsylvania) Community College.

"Antebellum Opulence: Portland, Maine's Victoria Mansion," by Arlene Palmer Schwind, 6:30 to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, May 27.

Victoria Mansion in Portland, Maine, appears today much as it did in 1860, when it was decorated and furnished by Gustave Herter as a summer home for a New Orleans hotelier. The house is the earliest known Herter commission, and the only one that is still intact. Remarkably, more than 90 percent of the original contents survive, including important furniture from the Herter workshops, elaborate wall paintings, artworks, carpets, gas lighting fixtures, stained glass, porcelain, silver and glassware.

Victoria Mansion curator Arlene Palmer Schwind will discuss the history, architecture, furnishings and restoration challenges of this unique historic house museum, whose opulent interiors suggest how the original 1857 Evergreen House may have been decorated. A Baltimore native and graduate of Goucher College, Schwind received a master's degree in the Winterthur Program at the University of Delaware and worked as a curator at the Winterthur Museum before moving to Maine in 1980.


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