At Winterthur, Jacqueline Kennedy found priceless treasures and a great deal of inspiration.
First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy had already invited Winterthur founder Henry Francis du Pont to chair her Fine Arts Committee for her historic restoration of the White House when she visited Winterthur in May 1961. What did she see here? Many of the same iconic objects and spaces visitors see today, and they are all worthy of a president’s home. Here’s a short list.
Silver Tankards by Paul Revere
The only known set of six matching silver tankards made by patriot Paul Revere Jr. has rested on a sideboard in the du Pont Dining Room since Winterthur became a museum in 1951. They are a special treasure even among Winterthur’s treasured silver collection. About 2,900 pieces are on view in the museum. Another 9,000 objects, mostly spoons, make up a reference collection of American silversmiths’ marks, an important resource for scholars and collectors. Other highlights of the collection include the first coins minted in Boston, the largest extant collection of British fused-plate lighting devices, and the Campbell’s collection of British, European and American soup tureens—though Mrs. Kennedy visited 35 years before the tureens entered the collection.
American Commissioners of the Preliminary Peace Negotiations with Great Britain
This painting by famed artist Benjamin West commemorates the Treaty of Paris, which ended the American Revolution. It hangs near Revere’s tankards. Dated 1783-1819, it depicts American patriots John Jay (standing), John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Henry Laurens (standing), and William Templeton Franklin, but not the British delegates. West, appointed historical painter to the king of England in 1772 and surveyor of the royal pictures in 1790, never completed the painting. It was sold as part of his estate in 1819. Du Pont purchased the painting from the J.P. Morgan collection in 1948. A second version, presumably finished by West’s studio, is in the collections of the U.S. Department of State.
Washington at Verplanck’s Point
Like “American Commissioners” the full name of this famous painting by John Trumbull is a mouthful: Washington at Verplanck’s Point New York, 1782 Reviewing the French Troops after the Victory at Yorktown. Made in 1790, it is perhaps the most famous of the many paintings of Washington as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army. Washington gave the fortunate Trumbull 14 sittings, perhaps because Trumbull’s father was a wartime governor and trusted friend of the general, perhaps because the painting was a gift from Trumbull to Martha Washington. It originally hung in the dining room of the Washingtons’ Mount Vernon home.
See these things and more during a Walking in Jackie’s Footsteps tour of the museum when you visit Jacqueline Kennedy and H. F. du Pont: From Winterthur to the White House in the second-floor gallery.